Earlier in the year, we brought news that Rossi could possibly retire by the middle of 2021. At the time, Yamaha had recently signed on Fabio Quartararo as rider for the Yamaha Factory team for 2021. This leaves Rossi with just one year left with the Yamaha team.
While he was given an option to continue racing with Petronas SRT, the nine-time world champion has taken the opportunity to evaluate his competitiveness in the sport. He decided to continue with Yamaha until the mid-season of 2020 and decide based on his performance.
However, because MotoGP races have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Rossi has not been able to race and decide on whether to retire or not.
In a recent interview with MotoGP, Rossi shared his retirement plans.
"I am in a difficult situation because, like I said, my first option is to try to continue," Rossi told the official MotoGP website. "I have enough motivation and I want to continue. It’s very important to understand the level of competition because especially in the second part of last year we suffered very much and too many times I was too slow and I had to fight outside of the top five.
“In my mind, I had another year with the factory team and I needed time to decide and for me, I need like five or six races, with the new chief mechanic, and some modifications in the team to understand if I can be strong.
"The problem is that there’s no racing. So with the virus, we cannot race. So I will have to decide before racing because in the most optimistic situation we can race in the second half of the season, so August or September we hope. But I have to make my decision before. But anyway I want to continue but I’ve had to make this decision without any races.
"It’s not the best way to stop because the situation is that maybe we don’t race in 2020. So it’s fairer for me to do another championship and stop at the end of the next, so I hope to continue in 2021."
Rossi’s comments suggest that MotoGP might not be able to continue racing this year, despite their plans to hold closed-door racing events.
In addition, this means that Rossi will likely be racing under the Petronas SRT team in 2021. While Petronas SRT has showed a preference for nurturing younger riders with more potential to develop, having Rossi in the team for one year seems to be amenable.
One thing’s for sure, it will be interesting to see Rossi’s final season, especially under a new team. And perhaps Quartararo might be the shot in the arm the Yamaha Factory team needs.