Petronas Yamaha team principal Razlan Razali has revealed at today’s team launch that he is close to finalising a deal for his squad to remain as a Yamaha satellite team for as many as another five years, moving to end speculation that the Malaysian squad was close to jumping ship to Suzuki.
Speaking to the media via Zoom, Razali confirmed that a five-year draft agreement, which would run through 2026, has been put forward by Yamaha as early as December.
“We started discussing the extension with Yamaha in December last year,” the former Sepang circuit boss admitted, “and I already have the first draft proposal for the next five years from Yamaha. We are still currently in discussions, and we hope to complete everything by May or June this year.
“In that sense it’s progressing nicely, and we just wanted to get this all out of the way first before we focus on the extension with Yamaha.”
Razali also addressed the rumours of a link-up with Suzuki, hinting that SRT had in fact started negotiations with the reigning champion manufacturer – but that commercial interests had also played a role in the decision.
“I would not deny the fact that when other manufacturers want to come and talk to us we listen,” Razlan admitted. “Our door is always open to listen and we look at all possibilities. But our decision on the selection of a manufacturer also depends on what our title partner wants.
“So we are very much dictated with what Petronas, our title partner, would like to do, from 2022 onwards, and they’re a company that wants to work with the biggest brands, in terms of market positioning, branding, performance, track record and so on.
“Unless they tell us otherwise, we will follow their direction. At the moment it is to continue working with Yamaha because the last two years have been fantastic, and we could not do what we are achieving without the full support of Yamaha Motor Company.”
Rumours of a split with Yamaha had been borne out of an understanding that SRT was not entirely happy with its arrangement with Yamaha in the last two years, and Razali confirmed as much – but indicated that his concerns have now been answered during the same “end-of-year briefing” that yielded the draft agreement.
“We have addressed that, how we felt that we were just a paying customer and not a partner, we felt that it’s us that want to do more than the other [side],” Razali said.
“We were very very upset when we lost the championship and Yamaha lost the constructors’ [title] in Valencia 1, it seemed that we were more upset than them. But we addressed all that.
“I am pleased to know that they recognised that fact, and their proposal beyond 2022 is more than what happened in the last two years. They are looking at riders’ development from other championships [too] – Asian championship, Japanese championship – they are looking at our young riders in Moto3 and Moto2, they want to really optimise the relationship that we have so that the riders we develop remain in the Yamaha family.
“We have already seen that, which is very very positive, and I’m very pleased, and we hope that come May or June we can finalise this new agreement with Yamaha, and stop calling us ‘independent team’ or ‘satellite team’, I really hate those terms.”
Razali also refused to rule out the possibility of some sort of joint deal with new rider Valentino Rossi when he moves to full-time MotoGP team management, as expected, at the end of this season.
Rossi’s VR46 operation was believed to be favourite to inherit the Yamaha satellite support should Petronas have looked elsewhere thanks to Rossi’s long-term links with Yamaha, and Razali says a partnership between SRT and VR46 can’t be ruled out – but is something that would need to be looked at a pay grade above his.
“We are open, and won’t close the door on any opportunity,” Razali said. “But the most important thing is the direction and strategy of our title partner, and they will decide at a high level what we will do moving forward.
“Until they come and approach us, we won’t know, but I’m not closing the door – we are open to all opportunities.”