Yamaha confirms Franco Morbidelli to Factory team until 2023 MotoGP season

Franco Morbidelli will see out the 2021 MotoGP season as a Yamaha Factory rider and compete with the team to the end of the 2023 MotoGP season

Franco Morbidelli - Petronas SRT Yamaha

Yamaha has confirmed Franco Morbidelli will compete with the Yamaha Factory Racing team until the end of the 2023 season, with Andrea Dovizioso filling his vacant seat in the satellite outfit.

The deals have been anticipated ever since Yamaha was forced to undergo a mid-season shuffle to compensate for both Morbidelli’s ongoing knee injury and the abrupt exit of Maverick Vinales from the factory team.

As such, from this weekend’s San Marino MotoGP, Morbidelli will return in ‘blue’ joining former Petronas SRT team-mate Fabio Quartararo on the works M1, a bike he will ride to the end of the 2023 season.

“I'm very pleased and happy about facing this weekend and this highly anticipated new chapter with the Factory Yamaha team. I've been trying to recover as much as possible for the final stage of this championship. I wanted to make my comeback at a track I know well and have great memories of, like Misano.

“I'm looking forward to jumping on the bike and starting my journey with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. Of course, I need and I want to thank all the people who made this happen, starting with Ito-san, Lin, Maio, Sumi-san, the VR46 Riders Academy, and all other people who made this collaboration possible.”

Vindication for Franco Morbidelli as MotoGP fortune turns in his favour

The move will come as some vindication for Morbidelli, who looked like being forced to wait until 2023 at the earliest for the factory move many felt he deserved.

Making his debut in 2018 with Marc VDS Honda after winning the 2017 Moto2 World Championship, Morbidelli joined the Yamaha ranks in 2019 on a spec M1 under the Petronas SRT banner.

However, despite a marked upturn in form, Morbidelli was overshadowed by Fabio Quartararo on a 2018-spec machine, prompting Yamaha to sign the Frenchman to the factory squad alongside Vinales for 2021 and 2022, as well as swap their statuses for 2020 with the Italian now getting the year-old bike.

Nonetheless, though Quartararo shone during the first half of the year, Morbidelli was the breakout star from the second-half, finishing runner-up to Joan Mir with three wins to his name.

As such, Morbidelli was always expected to land a factory ride, but would need to wait until Vinales or Quartararo were out of contract at the end of 2021. 

This was brought forward to 2022 when Vinales announced he would be exiting his contract early, but his termination after the Austrian rounds means he gets his debut from this weekend.