Valentino Rossi has admitted he rejected the chance to poach a Yamaha satellite deal from his current team Petronas SRT for his own VR46 squad for 2022.
Rossi announced on Thursday that he will retire from MotoGP racing at the end of the 2021 season, though he will retain a presence in the paddock through his VR46 team – which this year is running a single Ducati for Luca Marini in partnership with Esponsorama.
Though he had the chance to get Yamahas for VR46’s expansion to a full two-bike team next year, he instead opted to sign a deal to continue running Ducati-supported bikes – defying expectations that he would add to his Yamaha legacy by becoming its partner team.
Rossi is believed to have offers not just from Yamaha and Ducati but also interest from Aprilia for 2022 following the collapse of VR46’s favoured option of joining up with Suzuki, which instead opted to once again concentrate on only its factory team for the coming years.
The nine-time world champion and his team management considered all three of the deals on the table before surprising some by electing to continue on the Ducati route.
Rossi said part of the reasoning for that decision was to not leave the team he currently rides for without a manufacturer partner.
“We had a big problem,” he admitted. “The problem is that now I race for the Petronas team, who wanted the Yamahas.
“To take the Yamahas from the Petronas team for my team, when Petronas is my team now, would have been difficult.
“It would not be good. I let things go, and I made my decision afterwards.”
That’s also linked to his decision to retire. While he admitted that he could have been tempted to remain in MotoGP had 2021’s results been better and that he could have moved to VR46 to keep racing, Rossi would have wanted to ride a Yamaha if he had done so.
He suggested this was because he would’ve needed more time to get used to a change of bike so would’ve preferred to stick with Yamahas, but there have also long been rumours that contractually he would have had to stay with the brand if he’d been riding.
“Sincerely, I don’t want to push very much on our team just for me,” said Rossi.
“I just follow what happens. In modern MotoGP, if you want to change bikes in general you need a longer programme.
“It has to be two or three years to try to understand and to reach all the potential.
“In my case, maybe I could race another year, but to change bikes for one season is difficult.
“It could have been an option for next year, with Petronas, if the first of the season had given us some good results and some good races. Why not?
“I feel very good with the team, but the problem is the results.”
Another story that Rossi clarified after the first day of practice for the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring was rumours this week suggesting his new Saudi sponsors were interested in not only putting their name on the side of his team’s machinery for next year but also wanted to buy out his entire empire as they make increasing efforts to establish a MotoGP presence.
Rossi’s business consists not only of teams in MotoGP, Moto2 and the Spanish and Italian national championships but also a hugely successful merchandising business and the VR46 Academy programme that has now taken three riders to the premier class.
Italian media reported that Rossi’s new Saudi partners had allegedly made a €150million offer to purchase everything.
However, Rossi categorically denied the reports, dismissing them to the media as fake news.