Yamaha Press Release #2: Valentino Rossi To Take Time To Decide His Future

Yamaha today issued two press releases. The first confirming Fabio Quartararo will join Maverick Viñales in the factory Monster Energy Yamaha for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The second that Valentino Rossi will be given time to make a decision on his future. Here's the second press release, on Rossi. The first press release is here, and reaction putting this into perspective is to follow:


Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi will ride his last full season as a Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team rider in 2020. Following discussions together, Yamaha and Rossi have mutually agreed that the personal decision whether the Italian will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021 will be taken mid-2020.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 29th January 2020

Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi will complete his astounding 15-year run with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team at the end of the 2020 season.

Following discussions between Yamaha and Rossi, the Italian will take until mid-2020 to make the final call whether he will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021. This time frame was requested by Rossi to evaluate his competitive speed compared to the MotoGP grid only after completing the first seven or eight races of 2020.

Should Rossi decide to continue as a MotoGP rider in 2021, Yamaha assures Rossi of the availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. engineering support.

Irrespective of the decisions for the future, Yamaha will provide full support and total focus for the 2020 season as Rossi commences his 25th motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship, his 21st season in the premier class, and his 15th year with Yamaha.


The totally understandable decision of Valentino to assess his competitiveness in 2020 before making any decision about 2021 was something that Yamaha respects and also wholeheartedly agrees to. While we have total respect for and confidence in Valentino‘s abilities and speed for the 2020 championship - at the same time Yamaha also have to plan for the future. These days, with six motorcycle manufacturers in the MotoGP class, fast young talents are greatly in demand, and consequently the riders‘ market begins ever earlier. So, it‘s a weird sensation to start a season knowing that Vale will not be in the Factory Team in 2021, but Yamaha will still be there for Valentino, whatever he may decide for the future. If he feels confident and continues to race, we will provide a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full engineering support. If he decides to retire, we will continue and expand our collaborations off track with the young riders‘ training programmes of the Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, and with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador. Anyway, that is all speculation – right now we have a full season ahead of us and I can assure the fans that Valentino will have our 100% support every day until he eventually one day decides to hang up his leathers!


For reasons dictated by the riders‘ market, 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. 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. 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. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season.


With 24 Grand Prix seasons under his belt and still competitive at the age of 40, Valentino Rossi is a living MotoGP legend. He equals Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali, who both also wrote nine titles to their names in all classes, only Giacomo Agostini and Angel Nieto have more.

With 56 wins from 243 races ’The Doctor‘ remains the most successful Yamaha racer of all time. Moreover, he is the only rider to win premier class titles on five different types of motorcycles (500cc 4-cylinder two-stroke, 990cc 5-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 990cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 800cc 4-cylinder four-stroke and a Yamaha 1000cc 4-cylinder four-stroke).

The combination of the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team and Rossi produced four MotoGP World Championships (2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009). His astounding achievements, unparalleled passion for racing, and unrivalled charisma play a huge part in Yamaha‘s and MotoGP‘s heritage, earning the Italian recognition the world over by the epithet “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time).


  • Rossi is the most successful Yamaha rider in history (56 wins, 46 second places, 39 third places on a Yamaha, scored in 243 races).
  • He is the rider that's been active the longest in Grand Prix Racing (he made his debut in 1996, this will be his 25th season, and he has made 402 Grand Prix starts in total, of which 342 were in the premier class).
  • He competed the most seasons on a Yamaha in the MotoGP class (this will be his 15th season).
  • He secured the most podiums for Yamaha in the MotoGP class (so far, he has stood on the rostrum with Yamaha 141 times).
  • He holds the most first places for Yamaha in the MotoGP class (56 wins).
  • He completed 230 races back-to-back, without missing one (from his debut in 1996 in Malaysia until the race in Mugello in 2010).
  • He holds the record for most races started overall and in the premier class. (He has started in 402 GP races across all classes; 342 of which have been in the premier class and 243 of those races were ridden on a Yamaha.)
  • He was the first rider to take back-to-back premier-class victories with different manufacturers (after his win at the 2004 season-opening GP in South Africa).
  • He scored five successive premier-class victories on a Yamaha (2008: USA, CZE, RSM, INP, JPN).
  • He achieved the highest number of premier-class victories in a single season by a Yamaha rider (11 wins in 2005).
  • He finished on the podium at all 16 races in 2003, achieving a perfect 100% podium rate.
  • He stood on the podium in the premier class on 198 occasions.
  • He has been on the podium 234 times across all classes, more than any other rider.
  • He is the only Grand Prix rider that also excels in rally racing. (He is a seven-time winner of the Monza Rally Show and won the GTE Am-class of the 2019 Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.)
  • Out of Yamaha‘s 503 Grand Prix victories, with the 500th achieved in Le Mans 2017, 11% were secured by him, making Rossi the biggest contributing rider (56 victories of the 503 GP wins secured by Yamaha).
  • He is the most successful premier-class rider in Assen (8 victories) and Brno (5 first places).
  • He is the only active Grand Prix racer who is also a lower-classes team owner at the same time.
  • He secured 6,247 points in total, if you combine his results over all the classes he competed in (125cc, 250cc, 500cc, MotoGP).
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Sadly you can't beat time , it happens to everybody but there has been too much idolatry about Rossi that has tended to shade the sad truth , that he's not the rider he was . A good rider yes but sadly no longer a great one .

When the only justification for your continued presence is past results it's time to walk away , to take the next step and move into running your own team a la K.R. 

Hopefully the VR46 name with the Petronas money/structure  will be the next step .

It sounds like- from this english translation- that Vale might not be thrilled with being essentially pushed out of the picture. Cant fault Yamaha here, tho this needs to be handled with some delicacy.

Perhaps three letters might have a career path for a single season to win another World championship and sign out? WSB???

I was not expecting Fabio to be signed before pre-season even begins- nor that he would bump Rossi from the official squad.

Well played to Yamaha though. Concluded their silly season with an anti-climax. Rossi has a works M1 for as long as he wants, as he deserves, and which is good for both Vale and for Yamaha. I'd guess it would be a VR46 entry if he continues, no? 

And Yamaha has agruably the stongest official 2 rider line up on the grid secured for 21/22, who could disagree at this point.

It was my absolute pleasure and delight to follow Vale from a kid to mutiple champion, at trackside and on TV for his entire career. I've met many of the top riders at the races including Ago, but for me, Vale was the GOAT. He has inspired almost the whole of the current grid to race and then to try and beat him. Few have.

Personally I think it is the right time to go, unless he can have a storming season. But over the last few years, setting up the bike took longer, mistakes made more often, and the extra 1% of 'balls' that the younger riders have which he used to have in spades was not there. On his day when everything aligned like at Sepang before he fell off, he could beat anyone still. The sport has changed faster than ever and the current crop of riders is the best field of stars ever assembled so it is no wonder it is harder than ever.

Which ever path he takes good luck to him, more success will follow in whatever field he moves into because he is not done yet. He has lit up my weekends for the past 24 years, and I cant wait to see what he achieves this season. Could it be the impossible, I am sure he is fully motivated to achieve it, but from my thoughts about, it will probably be a bridge to far.

Thank you Vale for all the joy you gave me and I hope you will continue to give it for a lot longer yet.

So, in the current age of full spec bikes for satellite teams, does Rossi moving to the 'satellite' yamaha team really matter? 

I'm seeing "Petronas Yamaha VR46" in my crystal ball...

The quote seems to indicate that he would still be a factory rider, just in the Petronas VR46 team. 

IDK, if he wants to run his own team but still race, it's all working out perfectly for that transitition. 

Wow! I honestly didn't foresee this happening now in this manner. Did anyone?

Carefully reading what Jarvis and Rossi have stated here repeatedly. It looks to display exactly what is going on, how and why. The only mystery is what the team would look like if Vale does continue. Simply join Petronas? Run a single VR46 bike on his "Nastro Azzurroesque" own? Or a hybrid of these that marks a development for the future? I only see the second two options as viable (not disruptive of Aqua's personnel, palateable to Vale). The Aqua46 SkyBlue-Yellow merger for the future could be a win-win "bigger and better next thing."

Jarvis's description of Rossi's possible future roles with the organization are a bit more mild and cut and dried than what I have been imagining. He isn't just a brand ambassador, any more than he will have been just a motorcycle racer.

One extrapolation that is interesting is what this shift now may indicate about what Yamaha knows about the horsepower gain of their 2020 engine, and strategy to control silly season. Vale has been most directly vocal and pushing Yamaha, waiting to see the bike's performance before deciding his future. If he makes his dramatic drawn out process in public after race disappointments, and they are trying to keep (and afford) two of the hottest rider commodities, that could play out quite poorly for Yamaha. Now, they have more control over the process. Not Ducati money ready and aiming to buy Fabio (and Vinales...poor Gigi and Co must be grinding their gears right now, they were likely the top two hopefuls "not Marc, but we should be able to get one of those two in Red!"). Now they are not under the gun to make a bike for Vale before Summer or fail. They can make gains this year, and a bike for Maverick and Quartararo before 2021. Specifically, going to extrapolate that they have 1/3rd the power gains for 2020 that their riders generally believe they need to take it to Marquez/Honda. Also that they plan to continue developing the best Yamaha DNA bike they can, a package, not a drag race winner like the V4's.

Respect to all involved. Valentino is fast and focused under pressure. His response to this primarily will be on a bike. It will have beauty. Bright yellow brilliance. Mugello this year will be NUTS. He has a few tracks at which I for one REALLY hope for a win. There will be pizza.

Class article David, great tone and focus choice.

All silly season eyes now on Ducati and...which rider? One from KTM/Suzuki then? I bet they would do well w a V4 rider from Orange.

I think Rossi has been dumped in such a gentle way that he can only say thank you and tell himself and the world how happy he still is.

Ofcourse they will offer him a full spec sattelite bike and team. But he is PROBABLY will not leading any development. As a clear nr 3 in a team, where others have priority what is the sense to stay. Competitiveness means not only being able to win races, but also beat your teammates. If that believe is gone in the team, we dont need tracktime to prove things


I did think last week that, whilst Yamaha would've liked the time Vale also wanted, their hand may be forced by Quartararo's manager (hope he's not Zarco's former 'adviser'), calling to inform them that there were one or two fat juicy offers from, well, any other factory and what did Yamaha wish to do about it, this is what I believe happened. And below, to prove I don't have a clue what on earth I'm talking about, here's my top ten of what's gonna happen next, in order of most likely, to, well, deluded fantasy..

1. Vale circulates in his own, well funded satellite team with either a one or two Yamaha set up. Dorna have always said there are no more grid slots available EXCEPT when/if VR46 wants one.

2. He decides by (guess where?) early mid season it's all over and embarks on his mega farewell tour.

3. He goes into the Petronas team with his crew, partnering Morbidelli.

4. He decides #2 and then Yamaha step in to offer him a WSBK Yamaha with Dorna salivating to fund it.

5. He decides #2 and is then approached by another factory to do, well, whatever he wants.

6. He has assurances of huge investment (partly funded by his sponsors), to continue, but with Aprilia, stepping back after retirement to put riders from his VR46 academy on the bikes in the future.

7. He retires and gets a very advanced works drive in WRC.

8. He retires and goes F1 testing with Ferrari with a one season option (the snoozers over there would really think he was an alien, especially if he was allowed to smile and tell jokes that is). 

9. He decides to ride at the T.T. and I don't mean parading.

10. He takes the combined job of team manager & PR at HRC and tells Alberto to do one. 

It has been, I think, a very long day..