Why Rossi's new team won't let him bring his whole crew - The Race

Why Rossi’s new team won’t let him bring his whole crew

Sep 26 2020
By Simon Patterson

The news that Valentino Rossi will be moving from the factory Yamaha to satellite squad Petronas SRT for 2021 has been the worst-kept secret in MotoGP.

But one of the sticking points that has taken the longest to iron out is the future of some of the nine-time world champion’s long-serving crew members.

That’s finally been confirmed today, though, with news that only crew chief David Munoz and data engineer Matteo Flamigni will move with him.

“We wanted to create as little disruption as possible to the structure we had created. We didn’t want him bringing his whole crew” :: Razlan Razali

That means 2021 will mark the first time since Rossi joined the premier class in 2000 that he hasn’t worked with Australian Alex Briggs (pictured below in 2013), with Kiwi Brent Stephens a part of his team for nearly as long – joining in 2004 – and also not following him to SRT.

It’s a move that hasn’t come happily for Rossi either. He admitted when the news broke yesterday that he had tried his best to bring the pair along.

Alex Briggs 2013

“I am very sorry for Alex and Brent,” he said. “They wanted to follow me and I tried but it wasn’t possible.

“They both told me they would retire with me. It will be sad not to have them in the garage because they are members of the family.”

Speaking exclusively to The Race after the Rossi news was finally announced today at the Catalan Grand Prix, Petronas team boss Razlan Razali said that unfortunately there just wasn’t space for them given the well-oiled squad that he’s built around Fabio Quartararo.

“We had a condition at the beginning that we wanted to create as little disruption as possible to the structure we had created,” Razali told The Race.

“We didn’t want him bringing his whole crew with him. He could bring his key crew, and that’s why his crew chief and data guy are coming.”

That’s not a huge surprise given the image the Petronas team is keen to present of a very close-knit squad who work well together.

Petronas SRT Yamaha

The addition of new members of the crew would also present something of a double-edged sword to Razali’s team by potentially making redundant a number of team personnel who have been there since the team made its MotoGP debut at the beginning of 2019.

And while Rossi may have worked with the same crew for two decades and across three manufacturers, it’s also worth noting that the full-scale rotation of entire teams is something largely unique to him.

“It would have been nice to keep everyone happy, but sometimes you need to change a team” :: Lin Jarvis

The only other rider who has enjoyed the ability to similarly move his crew with him is reigning champion Marc Marquez.

He moved to the factory Repsol Honda team as a rookie and was followed a season later by many of his championship-winning Moto2 team Monlau, displacing the remnants of Casey Stoner’s mechanics on the left hand side of the Honda garage.

Perhaps the bigger surprise to many within the MotoGP paddock is that Briggs (pictured above) and Stephens won’t be remaining at Yamaha as Rossi departs, given their long-term service for the Japanese manufacturer.

Lin Jarvis Valentino Rossi

But, with the team seemingly looking to make something of a clean break from the Rossi era as it moves him to one side in the satellite team, factory team boss Lin Jarvis says it was time to bring in new people for 2021.

“As Valentino said, he’s been with some of his people for many years, and that’s something we’ve been a part of because we bought his entire team with him from Honda,” Jarvis explained.

“This is kind of a changing of the guard, and we needed to find a way to accommodate Fabio and his requests too, and there are only so many places in the pit box.

“That means we weren’t able to offer an extension to Brent and Alex.

“I’ve worked with Brent since the Marlboro Yamaha days in 1999 and with Alex since 2004, and we have a very good relationship.

“It would have been nice to keep everyone happy, but sometimes you need to change a team as well.”

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