2020 could be the last season for Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team rider, Valentino Rossi. The announcement was made by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. following discussions with the rider. Rossi will announce whether he is staying or retiring for good by mid-2020.
Rossi requested this time frame in order to evaluate his competitive speed compared to the rest of the MotoGP grid once he has completed the first seven or eight races of 2020. His performance in these races will determine if he will pursue the MotoGP World Championship in 2021.
The Grand Prix racing legend is a nine-time MotoGP World Champion. 2020 will be his 15th year racing with Yamaha, his 21st year in MotoGP, and his 25th year in grand prix racing.
Yamaha, for its part, assured Rossi that they would provide full support and total focus for the 2020 season. Should he decide to continue in the 2021 season, Yamaha will gladly provide him with a factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. engineering support. If he decides to retire, Yamaha will continue to collaborate with him off-track with the young riders’ training programs of the Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, and keep him as a Yamaha brand ambassador.
“It’s a weird sensation to start a season knowing that Vale will not be in the Factory Team in 2021, but Yamaha will still be there for Valentino, whatever he may decide for the future.,” said Lin Jarvis - Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
“For reasons dictated by the riders’ market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future. Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time,” said Rossi.
“Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me. I’m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract.”
Meanwhile, Rossi's teammate, Maverick Viñales, has signed for two further years with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team. Viñales will be riding with Yamaha until the 2022 MotoGP season.
The team has also announced that it has signed Fabio Quartararo with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team for the 2021 and 2022 season.