MotoGP

Yamaha: We don’t know what Valentino Rossi’s future is…

Yamaha Racing says it hasn't been able to come to a decision yet on the future of Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales or Fabio Quartararo...

Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis has admitted he doesn’t what the future holds for the three riders – Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo - potentially fighting over just two factory seats for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

Rossi has been the talisman of the Yamaha fold for many years but has seen his results slip in the face of competition from both rivals and team-mates, the Italian out-performed by both Vinales and rookie Quartararo in 2019.

With all three out-of-contract at the end of the 2020 MotoGP season, much talk during the first few months of the season will focus on who could go where in 2021.

As it stands, Rossi could well call 2020 his last season in MotoGP, but if he decides to stay on it could lead to the departure of Yamaha’s only 2019 race winner Vinales or breakout star Quartararo if they don’t land the factory ride alongside him.

It’s a quandary that hasn’t been lost on Jarvis, who suggests the manufacturer will never ‘push’ Rossi out, but says he wants Vinales and Quartararo to stay too.

"We have to think of today, tomorrow and also the future, but it's difficult to say what the solution will be," he told CNN. "Clearly Fabio has great potential, and we would like him to stay with Yamaha, also I believe he should stay with Yamaha because he seems perfectly matched to the characteristics of our bike. So definitely he's a huge talent for the future.

"Maverick definitely is also a huge talent. And when he started with us, back in 2016, he was very strong, won three races almost straight away, and now he's coming back to form. Valentino is an iconic rider, still highly competitive, so we don't know what Valentino's future is, we don't know whether Maverick will stay with us, we don't know whether Fabio will stay, but we will do our best to put the strongest package together, and together with the satellite team."

“With Maverick I would say he's re-found himself at the moment. I'm hoping that Valentino will find that with some of the changes of the bike and the change of team organisation next year, but Maverick has already found it and is back in his groove again."

Decision day looms for Yamaha and Valentino Rossi

In some ways this is Yamaha’s worst nightmare when it comes to rider selection. While it might look welcome to more talent than not when making a decision on who will ride the factory Yamaha, its decision has to take in more than just simple performance levels.

Where Rossi is concerned, he comes with a huge amount of commercial appeal to negate the perhaps less-than-ideal results he’s been experiencing the last couple of years.

Keeping him on board wouldn’t feel so much of a problem had Vinales not rediscovered his mojo during the second-half of the 2019 MotoGP season or Quartararo not been nearly as superb in his rookie campaign.

If Yamaha keeps Rossi, it faces losing one of the riders that out-performed the seven-time premier class champion in 2019 and driving them into the arms of a more than willing rival. For instance, Ducati is rumoured to have made enquiries as to each rider.

Alternatively, the trio could maintain a status quo provided Yamaha can assure Quartararo he will get equal machinery and guaranteed promotion status when the time comes. The Frenchman certainly has time on his side, but he’s also had some very tempting deals come his way for what would be a fast-tracked route onto a factory machine.

A decision may be coming soon though. Traditionally, MotoGP deals for the following year are decided in the early stages of the season and Rossi has often gone public in March so as to stop speculation distracting him when he is racing…

However, more than ever, these contract negotiations would have a larger ripple effect than ever before…

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