Valentino Rossi says a decision on his MotoGP future beyond 2022 will come in the summer and will be fully results-based.
Rossi has joined Yamaha’s satellite Petronas SRT team on a one-year deal for this season, after an eight-year stint with the manufacturer’s factory team.
The seven-time MotoGP champion joins Petronas fresh off what was comfortably the worst campaign of his premier-class career, but has retained the support of Yamaha and a factory-spec bike.
“I will decide during the summer break,” Rossi said about continuing in MotoGP beyond 2021. “So, in the middle of the season, I want to make half a season [before I decide].
“My decision is [going to come] from the results. If I’m strong, and if I can fight for the podium, if I can fight for the victory, I can continue also another year.
“Or, if not, no, [I won’t continue].
“So, I will decide around summer.”
If Rossi races on in 2022, it would likely be with the Petronas squad following the news that it is closing on a new deal to continue to race Yamaha bikes.
However, Rossi’s own VR46 team could also be on next year’s grid in some capacity, having dipped its toe with a single-bike entry for Luca Marini this year as part of the Avintia Ducati set-up.
Petronas SRT team principal Razlan Razali said earlier this week that Rossi’s deal with Yamaha has certain performance clauses that the Italian needs to achieve for a 2022 extension to be feasible, and Rossi appeared to corroborate as much in his post-launch interview.
“It’s not an easy decision but for sure everything depends on the results. I think, if I can be competitive, if I can fight for victory, for the podium, I can continue also another year,” Rossi reiterated, before adding jovially: “But this is my idea, I don’t speak with the team, I don’t speak with Yamaha, maybe they tell me I don’t have a decision [to make] – it’s possible.
“About my power [in the negotiations], I can have also another season but it will depend from the results.”
Petronas SRT team director Johan Stigefelt also acknowledged the existence of a clause, but indicated that the clause by itself wouldn’t be an overriding factor for the two sides.
“We have discussed it, and at the end of the day it comes down to results, and being comfortable and happy with what we are doing, and it goes both ways, with Valentino and us,” he said.
“So we have a common understanding, to evaluate, and see how he performs.
“It’s much in his hands – if he’s happy, and he’s doing it in the positions – top-five, top-three – that he wants to do, and he wants to continue, we are here, we are open, but that’s something we have to evaluate a bit further ahead.
“Right now it’s too early to say, we have to see at half-season where we are, and hopefully we will be doing really well and having a lot of fun together, and challenging for the top positions.”
Though 2021 will mark his 21st season in the top class, meaning he’s now spent half his whole life as a premier-class rider, Rossi insisted he had no fears about life beyond MotoGP.
“Yes, my life will change a lot [when I retire], but I’m not very worried. I know I’ve had a long, long career, and I’m happy.”
“I want to continue to be a driver, I want to race cars, so maybe [my life] will change, but not a lot, I hope.”