Ever since the factory Monster Yamaha MotoGP team signed Fabio Quartararo at the beginning of this year, there has been much discussion about the future of Valentino Rossi, who would then be losing his seat in the factory team to the young Frenchman.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the expectation was that Rossi would take the first third of the 2020 season to decide his future in MotoGP. If The Doctor felt he could be competitive and wanted to continue racing, then a factory-backed bike in the Petronas Yamaha satellite team was promised to him for 2021 and onward.
Of course, with no racing so far this year, Rossi’s plan to assess his retirement has gone out the window. Talking today with MotoGP’s Matthew Birt however, Rossi explained that his new plan is not to retire at the end of this season, and instead to race in 2021.
“The problem is that there’s no racing. So with the virus, we cannot race. So I will have to decide before racing because in the most optimistic situation we can race in the second half of the season, so August or September we hope,” explained Rossi, while on a video call with MotoGP host Matthew Birt, as well as teammate Maverick Vinales.
“But I have to make my decision before. But anyway I want to continue but I’ve had to make this decision without any races.’
“It’s not the best way to stop because the situation is that maybe we don’t race in 2020,” Rossi continued. “So it’s fairer for me to do another championship and stop at the end of the next, so I hope to continue in 2021.”
This should be welcomed news to Rossi’s legion of fans, who always hope to see the nine-time world champion continuing to line up on the MotoGP grid.
Surely Rossi’s decision will also help the MotoGP Championship recover some of its lost promotion from the virus outbreak, as The Doctor continues to be a huge draw for grand prix racing fans, at the races, but also in marketing materials and social media.
His chances of winning a tenth championship seem next to zero now, but Valentino Rossi is still very much the star of the MotoGP paddock. Having him on the Petronas bike in 2021 could also add an interesting dimension, to what will likely be a swan song of a season.
Source: MotoGP; Photo: Yamaha Racing