Valentino Rossi‘s arrival will bring ‘extra excitement’ to the Petronas Yamaha MotoGP team next season.
That’s the opinion of Rossi’s VR46 protegee and new team-mate Franco Morbidelli.
Morbidelli joined Petronas alongside Fabio Quartararo for the team’s debut 2019 campaign, then took a big step forward with three race wins and title runner-up this season.
Rossi knew 2020 would be his last at the Factory Yamaha team in January, when Quartararo was signed to take over his Offiical seat in 2021.
But Yamaha offered Rossi full support at the Sepang team if he wished to continue, an offer it soon became clear the nine-time world champion would accept. Next season will this be the first since 2001, at Nastro Azzurro Honda, that Rossi has raced for a satellite team.
“People will be more excited to work with Vale, that’s for sure,” Morbidelli said. “He is such a great legend and I think people inside the team will work with more excitement because that’s what Vale gives to the people around him, just by his presence.
“He gives extra motivation to those around by just being him. That’s what I expect to see next year.
“This doesn’t mean that people right now in the team are working in a bad mood. Inside the team there is a great mood, people are happy because we are doing great results and having fun. But Vale is always giving that extra excitement to the people.”
Assisted by Rossi from an early age, Morbidelli went on to become the first official member of the VR46 academy. He was then its first world champion, courtesy of his 2017 Moto2 title triumph, its first rider in MotoGP (2018 with Marc VDS) and now first premier-class race winner.
Having spent so long around Rossi, Morbidelli feels the #46’s influence on his life goes well beyond the race track.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint one piece of advice because when you grow up with such a great rider, such a legend, such an experienced rider, you pick up things without him telling you,” Morbidelli said.
“You just pick up things about how he is and how he acts and how he faces situations because you spend time together. When you spend so much time together, usually people start to blend their personality.
“I don’t want to say that I have his personality, but for sure I have things from his behaviour and things from his character, because I spent so much time with him and I admire him so much that I try to face some situations of my life, of my sport as he faces them.
“I always ask myself, what would Vale do in this situation? Because he’s always sharp in what he does.”
Morbidelli will continue on the A-spec M1 next season, while Rossi, Quartararo and Maverick Vinales again have the Factory-spec edition. But after Morbidelli’s heroics this year, few would be surprised if the Factory-spec bike moves closer to the A-spec design.
Rossi will make his Petronas debut alongside Morbidelli at the Sepang test, next February.