Franco Morbidelli has dropped his strongest signal currently that Yamaha is not where his MotoGP future lies and that he will be racing in 2024 and beyond.
The statement was made in an interview after Morbidelli beat 2022 world champion teammate Fabio Quartararo at Mugello, delivering an uncommon intra-team setback that propelled Quartararo to 10th position.
Morbidelli said his alternatives for next year had changed apparently and suddenly, in an interview with the MotoGP website following the race.
When asked if beating Quartararo to a top-10 placing was crucial for his future, Morbidelli responded: “I don’t care, I don’t care. I need to be focused on being the best professional that I can be, being the best rider that I can be.
“I don’t race according to my future or according to my contracts, I race according to my passion.”
When it was suggested that performances like Sunday’s could only be helpful to his future,in response, Morbidelli said, “Talk with Lin,” referring to Yamaha team manager Lin Jarvis.
Interviewer: “Do you not think that results like that could help?”
Morbidelli: “To do what?”
Interviewer: “Help secure another year with Yamaha.”
Morbidelli: “Do I want to secure another year with Yamaha?”
Interviewer: “Well, do you?”
Morbidelli: “Talk with Lin.”
Morbidelli’s recent statements that he hoped his future still resided with Yamaha and his current stance represent a significant shift.
“Every race is important,” Morbidelli said on Thursday ahead of Italian Grand Prix. “I don’t race according to keeping my job. I race according to my passion, my drive and according to what I’ve done all my life.
“This is what I know to do, and this is what I do better in life. And I don’t want to get polluted by external stuff.
“OK, this is also a job, and we all want to keep our jobs, don’t we? So, I would love to keep my job, and I would love to keep doing it for a lot of years still.
“So, I keep doing my thing, I keep improving – as I said, last year the difference between me and Fabio was a lot and that doesn’t put you in a good position if you’re the one getting his butt kicked.
“But this year is a whole different story. We can say this after five races. OK, we need to keep going but we can say this after five races. Because numbers talk, I don’t.
“So, let’s see. These three races are really important because it’s a triple-header but they are as important as the other ones.”
That came after a different MotoGP interview that was released in the time between the French and Italian Grand Prixs, in which Morbidelli also seemed intent on remaining with Yamaha.
“I feel like I need to give a little more to keep my spot and try to achieve what I want to achieve with this team,” he said in the interview.
“And I feel that matching the performances of Fabio is already a good achievement – or is an acceptable achievement for me this year.”
Rumors in the MotoGP paddock that Yamaha is pursuing a top rider from a rival factory as a potential replacement for Morbidelli add yet another level of complexity. During the Mugello weekend, the rumors faded a little.
But since there can never be fire without smoke, it’s possible that anything substantial has changed within the camp in the recent days given the appearance of those rumors and Morbidelli’s change of heart in his post-race interview.