Petronas Yamaha has clarified comments attributed to team principal Razlan Razali in a Malaysian publication, which reports the team has already agreed not to renew Valentino Rossi‘s contract and is now seeking a young rider to take his place for the 2022 MotoGP season.
Petronas told Crash.net that the quotes are not accurate and provided the following statement, emphasising that no decision has yet been made but that, whenever Rossi’s time at the team does come to an end, their focus will return to the development of young riders:
‘Our overriding rider selection philosophy has been the same since the beginning; talent development.
‘Working with Valentino Rossi was a tremendous opportunity for the team and this relationship has enabled the non-rider talent within the team to grow. To have chosen a more experienced rider is an exception and we expect to favour youth in the future.
‘We have not yet determined our rider line-up for the 2022 season however once the relationship with Valentino comes to a conclusion, we expect to return our focus of our goal to find the best young riders.’
Nine-time world champion Rossi – signed directly to Yamaha, then placed at Petronas under a second contract – has cited the upcoming summer break for a decision on his MotoGP future.
Aside from poor results since joining Petronas, with a best of tenth place and only 19th in the world championship, the relationship between rider and team was surely not helped when it emerged VR46 was competing with Petronas for next year’s Yamaha supply.
While no deals have yet been officially announced, it is now expected that Yamaha will extend its agreement with the Malaysian team, which has an option to keep Franco Morbidelli for 2022, while VR46 is set to confirm Ducati machinery in the next few days.
If Rossi does leave Petronas, he would still have the option of riding for his own VR46 team, alongside younger brother Luca Marini, should he wish to continue in 2022.
Petronas and Yamaha meanwhile look short of obvious options to take The Doctor’s place.
The Sepang team’s Moto2 riders Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon should be first-in-line, but are currently only eighth and 18th respectively in the world championship.