Is Valentino Rossi leaning towards Aramco VR46 Ducati for 2022 MotoGP?

Decision day for Valentino Rossi himself may have already been and gone... but what will the future hold for the Italian MotoGP legend 

Valentino Rossi - Petronas SRT Yamaha 2021.jpg

The second-half of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship kicks off again with the Styrian MotoGP this week with all eyes on Valentino Rossi for any clue as to whether he will formally announce his plans for the 2022 season.

The Italian has been keeping his cards very close to his chest with regards to his future and while he is in the midst of his worst MotoGP season yet - leading many to believe he will hang up his helmet at the end of the season - Rossi still has two racing options available to him; remain with the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad or join the Aramco VR46 Ducati team that bears his name.

Rossi has long suggested he will use the summer break to make a final decision on whether to continue, with September’s San Marino MotoGP at Misano - his home race - expected to be the scene of an official announcement.

However, many will view the two upcoming races at the Red Bull Ring as the chance to get a hint as to which way his associations lie. 

Bookmakers in Italy have even begun taking bets on whether Rossi will race on, with the shortest odds to be had on him retiring.

Nonetheless, there is growing momentum behind the notion he will line-up on one of the Ducatis to be entered by his VR46 Racing team, which will step up to the MotoGP World Championship in 2022.

The team officially confirmed it will progress to the premier class last month in a deal with Saudi oil giants Aramco, which will title sponsor the team for four seasons, with Ducati supplying machinery for at least three years.

Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah - who is behind the deal - has made it very clear he wants Rossi to race on for at least one more season, prompting a rather coy Rossi to respond it would be ‘very difficult’ for him to do so.

However, rhetoric from those close to Rossi have also suggested he could be coming round to the idea of racing under his own banner, with his brother Luca Marini - who is almost certain to land one of the seats - and friend Alessio ‘Uccio’ Salucci both saying it is their hope Rossi will race with VR46 Racing next season.

More is expected to be revealed at an upcoming press conference [date TBA] being held by Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media - a holding company owned by the prince - where there will be special emphasis paid to the Aramco VR46 Racing project.

It is understood Rossi’s racing involvement could enable the team to secure an on-spec supply of Ducati bikes in line with the factory and Pramac Racing teams. If Rossi doesn’t race, Marco Bezzecchi is expected to be signed alongside Marini.