Valentino Rossi has explained his decision to retire from MotoGP at the end of the 2021 season, rather than switch to racing for his own VR46 team next year.
Rossi announced that he would retire from riding in the championship, after 22 seasons in the premier class, in a special press conference at the Styrian Grand Prix.
The 42-year-old made his decision during the summer break after considering racing for his own team, which will launch a full MotoGP programme with two Ducatis next season having run a single bike in partnership with Avintia this year.
The VR46 team was founded by Rossi in 2014 and competed in Moto3 from 2014-2020, adding a Moto2 programme in 2017.
Current Ducati factory rider Francesco Bagnaia won the Moto2 riders’ championship with the team in 2018 and VR46 claimed its first ever teams’ championship last year.
Rossi’s brother Luca Marini is spending his rookie MotoGP season on the VR46 Ducati, and he’ll race for the team when it takes over Avintia’s two entries next year.
“I have an offer from my team for next year, an official offer!” Rossi said when asked by The Race’s Simon Patterson about the chance to race for VR46.
“I think deeply to continue because I like to race in my team. We have our Moto2 and Moto3 team, with a lot of people that I know for a long time.
“For example, I have some mechanics that worked with me with the 250cc – so in ’98 and ’99.
“It’s very fascinating to race with my team, but at the end I decided to not for some different seasons.”
Rossi explained that his age meant carrying on riding with his own team wouldn’t be wise and he’d have to ride something other than a Yamaha in MotoGP for the first time since 2012.
“I’d have to change bike [from Yamaha to Ducati],” he added.
“It’s a good project if you have two or three years, but if you think you have just one season, maybe the risks are more than the good things so for these [reasons] I decide [not to].”
Rossi said he’ll switch from two wheels to four next year, with a potential programme that could lead to him racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of a World Endurance Championship campaign.
“I always love racing with cars,” Rossi said. “I started with the go-karts, and after two or three years with the go-karts, I tried the minibike and then I raced with the motorcycles. It was a good choice.
“During my career with the motorcycle, I always tried to improve my skills with the cars. To race, get some kilometres, to be ready for this moment.
“But I don’t know my level, it’s not the same as motorcycles. But you never race just for fun if you’re a real rider or driver. You race to be strong, for wins and for a good result.
“At the moment, I don’t know which cars, which races. I said I wanted to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and there’s a lot of car racing around the world, so I think I can enjoy it.”
Rossi has won the Monza Rally seven times and flirted with a potential switch to Formula 1 following tests with Ferrari in the late 2000s.