Valentino Rossi will be anouncing his move to Petronas Yamaha SRT this week at the Catalan Grand Prix. The deal has been very much anticipated after it has been delayed for weeks, after the announcement was expected to be made in the Austrian Grand Prix.
A series of meetings have been going on between Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis, Petronas Yamaha CEO Razlan Razali and Valentino himself in the last couple of weeks trying to get to an agreement on the deal, but finally the deal has been confirmed and it will be announced on Thursday at the Barcelona circuit.
The final details of the contract were being put in place last week as the MotoGP events took place at the Misano Circuit for the San Marino and Emilio Romagna MotoGP. With Rossi being in his homeground and the other parties being at the same venue, it was easier to have face-to-face talks as Razlan Razali confirmed on social media.
Valentino Rossi signed a year-long contract for 2021 with the Yamaha satellite team which is based in Malaysia. The contract does not last for just one year as there are speculations that Rossi may be looking for retirement, but because all the contracts will be coming to an end for the satellite team as they will be preparing for reorganisation for the 2022 MotoGP season.
The deeper details of the contract are yet to be known, with the specification of his new bike and how much of his current crew will be joining him at Petronas SRT Yamaha which have seemed to be very difficult to come up with an agreement in the talks.
On the other hand, some of Fabio Quartararo’s crew are looking forward to move with him from Petronas Yamaha to Factory Yamaha, and some of the straight personnel swap has been put in place to ease the transition between the two teams for the two riders. This could in turn open the door for the long waited VR46 Yamaha MotoGP team to join the grid for 2022.
That’s an idea reinforced by rumours that the Petronas SRT squad is unhappy with its current status as a Yamaha client team while many of its independent rivals are becoming an increasingly key part of their respective factory set-ups.
It’s not the first time a Yamaha satellite team has felt that way. Tech3 boss Herve Poncharal admitted in an exclusive interview after his team’s first win with KTM at the Styrian Grand Prix that he’d wanted more from Yamaha.
Having moved to KTM in search of a closer factory relationship, he admitted that he thought Yamaha was moving in that direction with Petronas – but it seems according to The Race’s sources within the team that progress has been more limited than it appears from the outside.
“When we were with Yamaha it was coming, they were starting to understand,” said Poncharal.
“You always feel a little like you’re a weight on your factory – ‘oh we’re concentrating on the top guys, leave us alone, but they realised when I left them that they lost something they needed.”
“Of course, Razlan stepped in and they did very well. He’s got the support of a huge sponsor, they picked up the right riders, and if you went to Yamaha now and told them that an independent team is a weight, they would disagree.”
Should Petronas SRT decide to look elsewhere, there is a strong option available for it in the shape of Suzuki. Having admitted that it’s all but necessary to have a satellite squad for 2022 in order to further speed its rapid development, Suzuki has also hinted that its plan would be to field four identical machines instead of two different specifications as Yamaha currently does.