The first race after the summer break will see retired racers returning to the MotoGP grid.
After Dani Pedrosa was confirmed as a wildcard at the Styria GP at Spielberg, Cal Crutchlow has now officially been confirmed as replacing Franco Morbidelli at both races in Austria and at his home Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Today, the Petronas Yamaha SRT team issued a press release announcing Crutchlow for the next three races. Morbidelli is absent after having surgery on his left knee to fix an issue with his ACL.
Racing at Austria will not be easy for Crutchlow, MotoGP veteran and now official Yamaha tester. The 2019 Yamaha M1 is the slowest bike on the grid by some margin, an important factor at the Spielberg circuit.
It will be a good base to get up to speed for his home race at Silverstone: there has been at least one Yamaha on the podium at the Northamptonshire circuit at every race held at the track since its return to the Grand Prix calendar in 2010.
The fact that Crutchlow is to replace Franco Morbidelli for the next three rounds points to the Italian prioritizing his recovery from ACL surgery over the 2021 MotoGP season.
This could be read as a clear indication that Morbidelli is in line to move up to the factory Yamaha team in 2022, taking the place of the departing Maverick Viñales.
Morbidelli is clearly the best option for the seat, having proved his worth by finishing second in the championship in 2020.
What will become of Viñales is less clear, with no word of where the Spaniard might land for 2022. Similarly, the search for a replacement (or two) at Petronas is also far from settled.
Source: Petronas Yamaha SRT; Photo; MotoGP