The Italian press is buzzing about the latest silly season info regarding Valentino Rossi, and where he will be racing next year. According to Corriere dello Sport, Ducati has upped their offer to Rossi to €15 million and has included provisions that would allow the Italian to race later with either Ferrari F1 or Fiat Rally teams once he’s finished with motorcycle racing.
Now…you’d expect Yamaha to up its ante on the nine-time World Champion, right? Not quite. Instead Yamaha has reduced Valentino’s Rossi contract price from the €14 million they current pay him each year to €9 million. More on the reasoning behind that after the jump.
Allegedly Yamaha’s salary cut stems from the team’s need to reduce costs, and also to offer Jorge Lorenzo more money (the Spanish rider currently makes €4 million per year, and is expected to get double that if/when he renews with Fiat-Yamaha), but more on that last bit in a minute. The kicker to the salary reduction is that Rossi is for it in concept. Rossi has made it clear that he wants to end his career with Yamaha, and looks at the salary cut as a way to be a team player. For the World Champion, racing has a lot less to do with his salary (he makes the majority of his money from endorsements, promotions, etc), and more to do with the perks and public perception.
Make no mistake that personalities play a huge role here, and Valentino Rossi isn’t all-together pleased that part of his paycheck would essentially be going to Lorenzo, as the two riders still compete with their egos on & off the track. Add into this the fact that for the first time in a long while, Rossi does not have the upper-hand in his bargaining position.
Not only does Fiat-Yamaha have the best bike on the grid, but the team also has another rider who can equal or best Rossi on any given Sunday. This is to say, Yamaha doesn’t need Valentino Rossi in order to compete for the MotoGP Championship, nor does the team need to find a media friendly rider, and as such may not see a need to compete with Ducati on contract terms. This doesn’t mean that Fiat-Yamaha doesn’t value the star power that Rossi has, but the Italian rider won’t be able to extort grandiose terms like he did when he left HRC for Yamaha back in 2003.
In reality only Ducati can offer Rossi the salary commensurate with his position on and off the MotoGP grid, since the Italian rider on an Italian team is a huge selling point for the company, Ducati can make a large salary make sense from an ROI perspective. However the Desmosedici still proves a tough nut to crack, and a move to Ducati would mean severing ties with a team that has treated Rossi very well in the past.
It’s a tough choice for the Champion to make, and we imagine he’ll be pondering his options quite a bit while he’s recovering from his broken leg.