Yamaha’s nailed down its factory MotoGP team for the next few years, and it turns out that Fabio Quartararo is in, and Valentino Rossi will soon be out. Maybe.
The moves started with Maverick Vinales signing a contract extension yesterday, keeping him with the big team through the 2022 season. But the big question was, what were Rossi’s plans after the 2020 season? He’s still competitive for podiums, but less so every year.
Yamaha wanted an answer, and Rossi delayed. “Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future. Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn’t want to rush any decision and needed more time,” he told MotoGP.com. “Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations.
“It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me.”
For that reason, Yamaha has now signed Fabio Quartararo to its factory team for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. It’s no surprise; the French rider scored fifth overall in his rookie season in 2019, competing for the front and earning several podiums with the Petronas team. Nobody saw it coming, and for the first time in a while, it seems like there might be a non-Honda rider who can challenge reigning champion Marc Marquez.
As for Rossi, he said ““I‘m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract.” So will that mean he’s going to be a third rider on the big team, or have his own team, or … ? This could get very interesting in coming months.