What if Valentino Rossi couldn’t finish his career at Yamaha?

Valentino Rossi may be planning to end his MotoGP career at Yamaha whenever it may be... but what are his options if it could happen?

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP

Had the 2020 MotoGP World Championship season begun when it was supposed to, we’d be coming out up to a decision from Valentino Rossi over whether he will be hanging up his helmet at the end of the year or carrying on into 2021 with the privateer Petronas SRT Yamaha outfit.

Many expected the big ‘yay or nee’ to come at Mugello in May, though of course this indefinite pause on racing has changed the timelines somewhat.

However, while Yamaha bosses are convinced Rossi will be on one of its bikes next year should he continue, Petronas SRT’s Razlan Razali has been rather more hesitant to confirm this. 

Rossi has already said he has no intention to leave Yamaha, but what if he did…? Where could he realistically go and how would he fare? These are his hypothetical options… just for fun.


Likelihood of joining: Slim to zilch

Going back to where it all began may look like a poignant way to come full circle, but though three of Rossi’s seven premier class titles came with Honda, he’s always considered himself to be a Yamaha star.

While Rossi is seemingly willing to forego number one status in the team in terms of competition, you would never see him size up directly against his old foe Marc Marquez. Even if Marquez and Rossi were best of friends, Jorge Lorenzo has shown talent isn’t enough in a team revolving efficiently around its number one rider.


Likelihood of joining: Tempting but…

There are many that would like to see Rossi go off-piste and join Suzuki to attempt three world titles with three Japanese heavyweights. 

Unfortunately, Suzuki doesn’t seem to be one of them as they have resisted temptations to ever take a punt on Rossi. It would be even less likely now as they invest in the future with riders like Alex Rins and Joan Mir. 

That said, there is one interesting hypothesis that does pique the interest of many. While Yamaha looks well-sorted for representation with the Petronas SRT team, Suzuki doesn’t have a satellite effort but has indicated in future it would be interested in doing so.

Having Rossi at the helm of a VR46 team similar to which competes in Moto2/3 might be a more realistic entry point for Suzuki, not that he would be competing.


Likelihood of joining: Let’s not go down that road again...

Rossi’s sojourn to Ducati is one that can be described ‘scene missing’ from his otherwise outstanding career. An Italian legend riding with an Italian legend was a headline that wrote itself, but the reality of their partnership was never a fruitful one.

To its defence, the Ducati has come a long way since Rossi’s two years in red, which wasn’t so much as bad as more just disappointingly lacklustre. While there may have once been an appetite to finish what he started, the fact Rossi is one of the few riders on the MotoGP grid Ducati hasn’t approached recently should tell you enough.


Likelihood of joining: Coming full circle looks intriguing...

Of the options here, this is perhaps the most compelling. Rossi began his grand prix career with Aprilia in 125/250GP, so it would be fitting to end his time in the sport with a manufacturer which is building momentum in MotoGP.

There is also that Italian legend on an Italian bike element we mentioned with Ducati, while the underdog status would arguably suit him. Moreover, it’s the team most likely to have rally around him to give him exactly what he wants and when. 

It too doesn’t have a satellite team, though it is expected to delegate that to Gresini Racing in 2022 when Aprilia plans to take its MotoGP effort in-house.


Likelihood of joining: Not with Red Bull around

Given Rossi is still likely to be a well-endorsed, valuable man even after he stops racing, he doesn’t come with quite the right backing (Monster) to fit into the Red Bull-assisted KTM effort.

Moreover, its eyes are supposedly on luring Marc Marquez out of Honda when he has finished breaking all the records he possibly can before he attempts something new.