Valentino Rossi To Announce Petronas Yamaha Deal At Jerez

Valentino Rossi at the 2020 Qatar MotoGP test - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

It appears that the deal is done. Italian media, including La Gazzetta dello Sport and, are reporting that Valentino Rossi has reached agreement with Yamaha for a new two-year deal to race in the Petronas Yamaha squad. The deal is to be announced during the weekend of the first MotoGP round once it resumes at Jerez next weekend.

The deal will initially be for 2021, with an option to extend the contract for a second year to 2022. Rossi will take a seat in the Petronas Yamaha squad alongside VR46 protege Franco Morbidelli, who should also be announcing a new contract soon.

The announcement will bring a long period of speculation to an end. Valentino Rossi appears to have enjoyed spending so much time at home during lockdown, with his family and girlfriend, giving rise to rumors he was seriously considering retirement. Rossi had previously said that he had wanted to wait until after the first few European races in 2020 before making a decision on his future.

Ducati's aggressive pursuit of both Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had already forced Yamaha's hand at the beginning of the year. The two youngsters were signed to the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team for 2021 and 2022, complicating Rossi's decision further. If he wanted to continue racing, he would have to move to the satellite Petronas Yamaha squad. Yamaha at least promised him a fully factory-supported Yamaha M1 if he did decided to continue.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing disruption to the 2020 MotoGP season wrecked Rossi's initial plans to wait before making a decision. With the first half of the season canceled, postponed, or rescheduled, Rossi was forced to reconsider his options. It would not be possible for the Italian to make his choice based on results; the criteria he had previously given to make a judgment was whether he felt he could be competitive.

Given the curtailed 2020 MotoGP season and the very different environment in which it will take place, it seems that Rossi did not feel that this year would be a good yardstick by which to judge whether he is still capable of winning races, or perhaps even a championship. And as a consequence, he has decided to keep racing for at least one more season, with an option to assess his performance in 2021 with a view to racing in 2022 as well.

So far, there are no details on what exactly is included in the deal. Previously, the sticking point between Petronas and Rossi involved the number of people the Italian wanted to bring into the Petronas squad. In all his previous moves, Rossi has brought his entire crew with him every time he has switched manufacturers.

The vast majority of his team accompanied him from Honda to Yamaha, from Yamaha to Ducati, and back again from Ducati to Yamaha. But Petronas team boss Razlan Razali told The Race's Simon Patterson that they did not want the disruption which bringing an entire garage crew in for possibly just a single season would involve. Razali told The Race that Petronas would only have room for two crew from Rossi's factory team, one of whom would almost certainly be the crew chief. How many people make the switch, and what happens to the mechanics and engineers who don't move with Rossi remains to be seen.

Rossi's deal removes one of the larger question marks hanging over the 2021 grid, but a couple of major issues remain. What happens in the factory Ducati squad, whether Andrea Dovizioso returns, and whether Cal Crutchlow takes the second seat in the factory Aprilia team will likely take a little longer to play out.

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If Rossi wants to bring in his own people for just a year or two, could not the members of Quartararo's current crew that do not go with him to Factory Yamaha be spread among the other five Petronas SRT Grand Prix teams so they are not lost to other organizations (since Razlan Razali wants to keep them)?  Particularly since there is always some natural attrittion of staff?

Hoping for Cal to get on the Aprilia, he deserves to get off that bronco and onto a stallion he can ride the wheels off without risking his future at every corner. Vale is Vale, he'll be ok at times but most races behind Franco, sad to say. Dovi will gallantly hang around the top 5 except when he's 9th. I don't have faith in MV other than in spurts, but of course I do in FQ. Mir could be the real outerspace longshot this year, I think the kid has the right stuff. Rins will be top 5/podium any race he can stay on that sweet handling Suzuki. It's all MM in the end, tho, have a good year, Marc, enjoy #9 but it's the one after that you're looking toward, isn't it?

Agreed spot on on all but Vale and Maverick. I have Vale beating his kid (read that only one way mind you), and both enjoying things a bunch. Aqua will be the best party atmosphere in the whole paddock.

Maverick will shine this year, and pretty consistently. Bike is back on track, so is he, concurrently.

Happy to token bet on either if you fancy tipping. I have a MotoPorn DVD or two to send when you are right.

Cheers mate!

It's tricky,,,the old vet Vale may end up with more points while Franco is consistently faster. Racecraft can never be an asset to VR's opponent. Even MM beat him by simply riding so damned fast he didn't need heat of battle racecraft too often. But, for the sake of a bet, I'll say Franco finishes ahead of Vale in points. I have a treasured Triumph tshirt that would be equal value. As for Maverick? 5th or 6th after MM, FQ, AR, AD, maybe one of the JM's...Cal on the Aprilia outta nowhere ftw! Oops, got carried away

I just can't wait for it to get started. Been in house arrest too long and no end in sight,,,makes Brian a cranky boy. Ciao!

Razlan Razali has denied on Gpone that the deal is done.

Betting against many times I've shaken my head at someone else for doing it, now I've gone and done it. First time for everything. Cheers!