The Coming Storm: How MotoGP's Silly Season Will Play Out

As the MotoGP field prepares to spend the holiday season at home with friends and family – or in Andrea Iannone's case, with his lawyers – the impending pressure of MotoGP Silly Season will be pushed to the back of their collective minds. But with the contracts of the entire MotoGP grid plus the leading Moto2 riders up at the end of the 2020 season, that state of quietude will not last long. Silly Season has been temporarily suspended for holiday season, but it will soon burst forth in a frenzy of speculation, rumor, and signings.

So how will the Silly Season for the 2021 MotoGP grid play out? Given the number of changes likely, it will be a complex jigsaw puzzle indeed, with a few key players at the heart of the process. And as a confounding factor, teams and factories will want to avoid the current tangle they find themselves in. The era of the entire grid being on two-year contracts is as good as over.

There are a number of reasons for no longer automatically offering two-year deals to everyone on the grid. Neither the team managers nor the rider managers I spoke to over the course of 2019 were thrilled at the prospect of another contract cycle like we have seen for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. And the way the year has played out has given them plenty of reasons to avoid the same mistakes for 2021.

Fear of commitment

Two riders embody the danger of signing two-year contracts. Johann Zarco found himself tied into a two-year deal he never really wanted, on a bike he had no affinity for whatsoever. The situation was obviously doomed, but both KTM and Zarco were stuck with one another. Zarco took the brave or foolish (depending on your perspective, and how 2020 plays out) step of breaking his contract with KTM at the end of 2019. But with everyone else tied up for 2020, KTM had no chance to tempt another experienced MotoGP rider to gamble on riding the KTM RC16 for 2020.

The situation for Repsol Honda was even worse. Jorge Lorenzo never really felt comfortable on the Honda RC213V, and when he nearly ended up paralyzed after a massive crash at Assen, he lost his appetite for racing. But he could not bring himself to call time on his career until the end of the season. One of the most coveted seats in MotoGP was available, and no riders in a position to take it.

So the next contract cycle will see more riders offered either one-year deals, or so-called 'one plus one' deals, where either side can get out of the deal more easily. Factories and teams will want the ability to move on from a rider who isn't working with their bike, and riders will want the flexibility to take a better opportunity if it presents itself, or just get out of a bad situation more easily.

Key players

The fact that every seat on the grid is potentially available puts a lot of leverage into the hands of a few key players. The linchpin at the heart of contract negotiations is of course Marc Márquez. The Spaniard is demonstrably the best rider in the world at the moment, and the only reason to turn down his services is not being able to afford him. Or in the case of Yamaha, feuds rooted in recent history.

Though Ducati have made no secret of their interest in trying to tempt Márquez away, the reigning world champion looks set to stay at Repsol Honda. Contract negotiations are well underway, and the power which Márquez has within HRC would not be available in other factories. Márquez can pick and choose who he works with, and demand that engineers are kept inside of HRC, rather than rotated out to work on other projects, as is common practice for all Japanese manufacturers.

Expect Márquez to announce a new contract relatively early in 2020. Marc Márquez' management negotiates from a position of power: Honda know that he is their best, and probably only, chance of winning championships; you only need to look at where the other Honda riders finished to see that. So Honda will want a two-year deal, to tie him down for the long term.

Leverage

Márquez may choose to sign for just one year, however, to give himself even more leverage next time around. His only goal is to keep winning as many races and championships as possible. And perhaps the fact that he has had surgery on both his left and right shoulders in the past two winters has given him a sense that his career is finite, and he needs to put himself on the right bike to win as much as possible. If Honda slips, he might want to be able to jump.

The seat alongside Marc Márquez is more complicated. It is probably too early for HRC to start looking for a successor to the reigning champion: he is still clearly in his prime, but he is also obviously vulnerable to injury, given how often he crashes.

The easiest solution is to keep brother Alex Márquez on the seat for 2021, as that gives Honda some leverage for the future as well. Though the younger Márquez brother has only had two tests on the bike, he has acquitted himself well. He has not set the world on fire, but neither has he been a failure. He looks on course to be reasonably competitive in 2020, and if he can score regular top tens and be rookie of the year, then there will be no reason to replace him.

Moving on?

With Márquez likely to stay at Honda, the real action this Silly Season will be at Yamaha and Ducati. There is a complicated chain of dependencies which revolve around how good the 2020 Yamaha M1 is, and whether Valentino Rossi decides to retire at the end of next year. Those two factors will determine whether Ducati are able to tempt either Maverick Viñales or Fabio Quartararo away from Yamaha.

But first, Rossi. The Italian has publicly said he will wait until the first couple of European races before making a decision on his future in MotoGP. The overseas races – and there are four of them to kick off 2020, with Thailand added in between Qatar, Austin, and Argentina – are too different to use as a solid basis for where riders and bikes stand, with the Jerez test forming a better yardstick.

If Rossi is thinking of retiring, then Mugello would be the place he would want to make the announcement. It is the home of Italian racing, a track Rossi loves, and crammed to the rafters each year with a yellow sea of Rossi fans. Mugello follows Jerez and Le Mans, two strong tracks for Yamaha, so the Italian should have a clear idea of whether he believes he can be competitive again in MotoGP in 2021, and whether the Yamaha is good enough to challenge for wins and a title.

As of December 2019, I would guess that the odds are starting to swing in favor of retirement. Rossi's outing in Lewis Hamilton's F1 car was a mere publicity stunt, but reports are that the Italian was fast. More significantly, Rossi was absent from the Monza Rally because he elected to race a GT3 car in Abu Dhabi at the Gulf 12 Hours endurance race. Teaming up with friend Uccio Salucci and brother Luca Marini, Rossi won the Pro-Am GT3 class, and finished third overall, and spoke very positively of the experience. The taste of winning in GT3 endurance racing may prove to be more alluring than fighting for podiums in MotoGP.

Bizarre Love Triangle

Rossi's decision will help determine whether there is a seat in the factory Yamaha team for Fabio Quartararo to step up to. The Frenchman has been sensational in his rookie year, putting the Petronas Yamaha on the podium six times, and coming close to winning on a couple of occasions. With a year of experience under his belt, big things are expected of him in 2020, and Yamaha are keen to keep him inside the factory.

Yamaha are not the only ones. Ducati have also expressed an interest in hiring Quartararo, as they still believe that a top rider is the missing piece of the puzzle preventing them from winning a championship, despite Andrea Dovizioso's best efforts to prove to them that they already have one under contract. On the other hand, Ducati have also tried to tempt Maverick Viñales away from Yamaha, which if successful would open up a slot in the factory team for Quartararo. Whatever happens, it looks like the Frenchman will be on a factory seat in 2021.

How much of a blessing that is, is open to question. Johan Stigefelt, Wilco Zeelenberg, and Razlan Razli have managed to create an incredible atmosphere inside the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. The rapport between the team members and riders is remarkable, and the Petronas hospitality is always a welcoming and fun place. So much so that it is common to spot a host of blue factory Yamaha uniforms in there in the evenings, factory staff preferring it to the more uptight factory hospitality unit.

Motorcycle racing takes place between the ears, and the Petronas team has managed to create what might appropriately be referred to as the right headspace for their riders to perform. There is less pressure than a factory squad, and a much better atmosphere, and that gives riders the confidence to explore their own limits more freely.

First mover advantage

Will Maverick Viñales stay at Yamaha? Much will depend on the Sepang test, and the early races. Yamaha have turned their MotoGP operation around in 2019, and the changes in the approach of Viñales' side of the garage paid off in a very strong last part of the season. The Spaniard has the right people around him, and confidence in his crew chief and team. What he really wants is a bike he can challenge Marc Márquez on. If he can take the fight to Márquez in the first few races, he will be more minded to stay. If he can't, and he can see Andrea Dovizioso fighting for wins and podiums, he may choose to jump ship and take a seat on the Ducati Desmosedici for 2021.

The question is, who jumps first? Until Valentino Rossi makes a decision on retirement, Ducati hold the upper hand. They can offer Viñales the prospect of a competitive bike, and if Viñales is not interested, they can tempt Quartararo with a factory ride and accompanying salary. If Rossi retires, then Yamaha are in a position to offer both men a ride. If Rossi stays, then they will either have to resign themselves to losing either Viñales or Quartararo, or find a way to convince Quartararo to stay on in the Petronas team with extra support and a big chunk of cash.

What if Yamaha lose two of the three? Then things get really complicated. The obvious thing to do would be to move Franco Morbidelli up into the factory team, though the Italian has been thoroughly outclassed by his rookie teammate this year. An alternative, if rather more far-fetched notion is for Yamaha to put Luca Marini straight into the factory team if Rossi stays. That would be a dream scenario for Dorna – two factory teams with two brothers, both great rivals – but it would require a lot of things to fall into place for it to happen.

Marini is one of the Moto2 riders likely to step up to MotoGP in 2021. If a space opens up in the Petronas Yamaha team, then he would be a prime candidate to take a seat there, given his strong ties to Yamaha through the VR46 Academy and his brother.

The youth have it

If a seat in the factory Yamaha team became available, then Yamaha might consider an alternative. They could try to poach one of the factory Suzuki riders, as the GSX-RR is the bike most like the Yamaha M1. Alex Rins has shown enormous potential in the races, though his qualifying leaves much to be desired. Joan Mir had a rough year with injury, but if he continues to live up to the potential he showed at the end of the year, he will generate plenty of interest from other factories.

As for Suzuki, they look set to continue as they are. The plan of the Suzuki Ecstar team has always been to sign young talent and try to develop them and the bike together into champions. That course was made even clearer in 2018, when a fractious relationship with Andrea Iannone caused Japanese bosses to reject the idea of signing either Dani Pedrosa or Jorge Lorenzo, preferring young talent they could shape to experienced riders who came with baggage.

It is a policy which has paid off so far: Alex Rins won two races in 2019, and looked capable of more. Joan Mir made the kind of progress you would expect of a rookie, scoring a top five at Phillip Island. If Suzuki lose either Rins or Mir, they are prime candidates to take one of the rookies coming up from Moto2, such as Jorge Martin (more about him later), Jorge Navarro, or Augusto Fernandez.

Experience or potential?

Ducati is one of the more interesting factories for 2021, with a lot of dependencies. They look set fair for talent, with Jack Miller living up to his potential at the end of the 2019 season, and getting better as he matures. Miller is a prime candidate for a factory slot.

Ducati also have experience with Andrea Dovizioso, who has helped turn the Desmosedici from a struggling mid-pack machine into a bike capable of challenging for championships. But Dovizioso's relationship with Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna has grown fractious, as the Italian's request for a bike which turns keeps being ignored. That may change with the GP20, the first impressions of the new chassis being tested at Valencia and Jerez very positive.

But Ducati may decide to gamble on the future. Dovizioso will be 35 at the start of the 2021 season, and with a host of youngsters entering the series, Ducati may choose to move on. If they can sign Maverick Viñales or Fabio Quartararo, they may elect to move Jack Miller up from Pramac to take a seat alongside them. Dovizioso, like Petrucci, could be out. Even if he does stay, Dovizioso is likely to be one of the riders who signs a one-year deal, rather than a two-year contract.

What about Johann Zarco? If the Frenchman thrives on the Ducati GP19 in Avintia, he could also move up to the factory squad. A more likely slot for him would be Pramac, however, given testing duties for the factory team. But Zarco's future is the least clear of all, given the choices he made in 2019.

Aprilia escape clause

Andrea Dovizioso could be a solution for Aprilia, if he is dropped by Ducati. Aprilia are always keen to have an Italian rider, and could swoop in to pick up either Dovizioso or Danilo Petrucci to put alongside Aleix Espargaro. The elder Espargaro brother has been a stalwart for the Italian factory, and has provided valuable input in the development of the RS-GP.

The second seat at Aprilia has been a problem, however. Scott Redding and Sam Lowes only held the seat for a year, and Andrea Iannone has been suspended after failing a drug test for steroids. Bradley Smith is likely to take over the seat for 2020 if Iannone's B sample fails to clear him. That would open the way for Petrucci or Dovizioso to bid for the seat in 2021.

TV Brits

There could be a reason to keep Smith in MotoGP after 2020, however. Cal Crutchlow is set to retire at the end of next season, though he still occasionally makes noises about staying on if he is still competitive next year. But Crutchlow's retirement leaves Dorna with a problem: with no British riders on the grid, the extremely lucrative BT Sport TV contract loses a lot of its value.

Dorna and BT Sport will want a British rider on the grid, but there are few obvious candidates to replace Crutchlow. John McPhee is the most competitive and deserving British rider outside of MotoGP, but the Scotsman is still in Moto3, and the jump to MotoGP is not easy, as Jack Miller showed. Jake Dixon will have another year in Moto2, but has not shown the kind of results which would earn him a spot in MotoGP.

That could leave the door open for Bradley Smith to stay on at Aprilia. Or perhaps it could see Scott Redding make a return to MotoGP. Redding was hugely popular in MotoGP before he left, and even more so in BSB. How he copes in WorldSBK will be crucial. And if he succeeds as Ducati hopes, then both Ducati and Dorna may want to keep him in World Superbikes to help crick up the popularity of the series.

Embarrassment of riches

KTM find themselves in a rather luxurious position, especially considering the results they have shown in their first three seasons in MotoGP. They have an experienced rider in Pol Espargaro, who has carried the development of the RC16 almost on his own for 2019, though having Dani Pedrosa as a test rider made a big difference in the second half of the year.

They also have the promising Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira, who performed well despite having his season ruined by a shoulder injury caused when he was taken out by Johann Zarco at Silverstone. They have two promising rookies: the ferocious Brad Binder, who vastly outperformed KTM's Moto2 bike to end up running the Moto2 championship close in 2019; and Iker Lecuona, a raw rookie who has only been riding on the track for three years, and is posting some remarkable results.

KTM's dilemma is that they also have Jorge Martin, one of the most promising Moto2 riders, who was outstanding in his rookie season on a difficult bike – a bike which broke his leg when the chatter spat him off at the Jerez test in February. Martin will be in MotoGP in 2021, and KTM's mission will be to find a way to keep him.

Five riders, four seats. Who do KTM lose? Whatever happens, they will lose out, as all of their riders are both talented and hard working. If they can't find a seat for one of the five, there is every chance that rider will jump ship to another factory. And that gives KTM an extra problem: another rider they have to figure out a way to beat.

Of course, much will be contingent on how good the 2020 KTM RC16 is. The new chassis tested at Valencia and Jerez was a big step forward, making the bike easier to turn. KTM are also making progress with the engine and the electronics, gaining drive out of corners. If the bike is as competitive as the early signs show, KTM will be able to pick and choose. If it isn't, then Jorge Martin or Miguel Oliveira may decide to try their luck elsewhere.

It is going to be a busy year for MotoGP team and rider managers in 2020. 2021 will see a lot of old faces leave, and a lot of new faces arrive, and a fair smattering of riders switching bikes. But the problem of putting the right rider on the right bike is not going to be easy: it is a question of who manages to make their move at the right time. It promises to be a fascinating game of strategy and negotiation. But one thing is for certain: at the end, everyone will declare themselves the winner.


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Comments

:Rossi "retires" with great fanfare, announced so close to MM93's title win as to overshadow, first rider to blaze again at sunset with a never before seen role within Factory Yamaha.
: Quartararo to join Maverick.
: Morbidelli stays put. Moto2 standout joins him in Aqua, pick one.
: Marquez stays put. Forever.
: Crutchlow is off to California.
: Bagnaia to LCR Honda
: "Fastest Japanese rider" retains 2nd LCR
: A.Marquez gets a 1 yr contract extension
: Suzuki re-signs Rins and Mir, and disappoints us all by leaving logistics and funding "underfunctioned" too long, resulting in our last two grid spots staying much as they are.
: KTM stays with their current line up, w one niggle, and a top kid fight for 2nd Factory seat. Bet a pint it is Binder. Pol stays. Lecuona and Oliveira battle for 3rd KTM includes the looming presence of Martin. The watershed depends on level of performance for those two, but one of them may take Iannone's/Smith's seat.
: A.Espargaro stays at Aprilia, with decreasing satisfaction. Iker or Oliveira take 2nd seat after Smith underperforms for a yr? Or does Aprillia grab a surprise low-hanging rider for a 1 yr contract? I think Smith steps in.
: ...drum roll...Ducati is the interesting Factory situation for sure. Dovi, like A.Espargaro, is surrounded by a fountain of youth in the top class. He has no where to go. He retains his seat, playing nicer w politics. He is joined by Miller in Red. Or, Ducati is successful in making a play at either Maverick or Quarty. It may be the time has come for the Ducati, the bike is here, the rider arrives?
: 2nd Ducati Team gets Zarco and a new standout from Moto2, you pick.
: Avintia survives its stay of grid spot loss, returns to pay to play for one last go, and picks up...Petrucci? Tito backmarks his last season.

Your turn, and bets are open.
;)

^ What do folks think is going to happen?
It is going to be a LONG Winter break if we don't get to enjoy some discussion, and there is some really interesting stuff.
Are there some tech geek considerations folks are thinking about? Jinx et al, care to take a swipe at Winter ponderings?
Will the Yamaha go vroom? Does it need to?
The Ducati carve?
The Honda behave? What's in the bento box?
The Suzuki Q? 2nd team?
The KTM, how far fwd will it get by Summer break?
The Aprilia get to register on the "it matters" list by getting a tow from the rear pack by KTM?
Is a new team coming to the grid? Riding Suzukis? Yamahas?
How good will Martin be on a big bike? Binder?

The freshest matter is the prospect of a shortened race weekend w less FP, to compensate for the added events in the sched. This would hinder setup time, and favor...last yr's bikes w data? Easier to set up bikes (which?). And what about the test teams then, will they up the ante to compensate?

Jorge - will he wildcard on the Yamaha? Will he pointy end with it? How cool is it to have Dani and Jorge testing now? Who could follow in their footsteps for Duc, Honda or Suzuki?

What could you see Vale doing in the Factory Yamaha project after competing on track?

The riders, good lordy is this an epic swell coming. Who is about to take things a big step forward?

Kia ora  from NZ, where motorcycle racing continues through the long hot summer. Too hot & smokey in Oz.

Plenty to ponder sir Shrink. My guesses>

Valentino will take his time. I'm still hoping for one more win before he chucks it in & accepts one of those big dollar car racing offers.

Fabio Quarteraro to factory Yamaha in 2021, first he will win for Razlan Razali.

When V.R 46 chooses to vamos Fab may share the factory Yamaha garage with Maverick, maybe not. Vinales will surely have many offers. Mav is the only M1 rider taking victories.

Franco Morbidelli needs good results in 2020, a famous name only gets one so far. He has surpassed that already. Balda at Petronas SRT Yamaha. Luca Marino & Diggi at Sky V.R. 46 MotoGp squadra corse on 5th & 6th Yamahas. More bikes = more data = faster progress. Part of the new philosophy at Iwata.

Pecco Bagnaia on ?? The tea leaves are unclear, MotoGp, Ducati factory superbike? Your guess is as good as mine.

Still only two Suzukis in 2021 ! Hamamatsu stuck believing they should defer to Honda & Yamaha.

Bradley & Pol push the bikes & each other. Pol gets marginally better results. Brad Binder beats both, more than once in 2020, takes Bradley Smith's ride for 2021. Brad Smith races BSB in 2021 and crushes the opposition. More KTM bikes on the grid, may replace Aprilia.

Aleix Espargaro does a great job on the new RSGP in 2020, the maniac doesn't. I'm wishing & hoping that Aprilia will make big steps. Gigi called many times & offered a King's ransom to return, Gigi says no. 2021 Aprilia enters the RSGP as a superbike, pulls out of MotoGp.

Jack Miller to Ducati factory team in 2021 after a good year. Petrucci offered a ride at KTM.

Johann Zarco inconsistent, gets beaten by wildcard Karel "the gravel" Abraham at Brno, then considers his future. Renault formula yawn offers JZ a test.

Fabio Quarteraro offered a ride by five different manufacturers. Hope he rides for Ducati factory and wins their first championship 14 years after Casey Stoner. Tell me I'm dreaming.

The 2020 Ducati will be slightly better, in 2021 better again with more gadgets than James Bond and Batman put together.

KTM pushing red to be the best European manu.

Jorge Martin wins Moto2 in 2020, jumps straight on a factory bike in 2021 and flops.

Two day Gran Prix race meetings " you cannot be serious " minus one day due to weather. How the freak out do you compress FP, qualifying & Four races* into one day? Do the riders pick their grid positions out of a hat? Personally I think it's a very dumb idea. The calendar can only expand so much. Dorna must find other ways to grow.

* Moto-E doing all rounds other than the flyaways by 2021. Multiple manufacturers. Dorna on the electric bandwagon, lithium price skyrockets.

JL 99 hapily retired. Cal Crutchlow part time tester.

Remy Gardner makes a big step in 2020 and finishes every race. MotoGp bound in 2021

 

Rossi ending up in GT3/WEC sounds quite plausible. If the field turns out to be competitive I could even see him in the new Hypercar class once those start thundering roundthe tracks.

.

Dovi on the Aprilia? I don't see any amount of money convincing him there. If Ducati decide against him he'll try for one of the other top 3 or retire, Dovi's not interested in circling at the back. Or for a really left field prediction he'll go GT racing with Valentino and Jorge Lorenzo, who also won the Gulf 12 a few years ago, they can be team we like each other more now we're retired.

Yes the 2020 Duc is going to turn in and flick well. How well I'm not sure. Probable better than the KTM & last years Duc. Maybe not as well as the Suzuki or the Yamaha. The GP20 might be similar to the Honda in that area i.e. an outstanding rider can make the bike do the job in the corner. Using technique, willpower & muscle.

The goalposts are moving right now. We won't know for a while which factories have improved their bikes or by how much, whether the changes made are actually going in the right direction & the relative improvements.

What wins next year? What won last season plus 1%, maybe even less than that. Paraphrasing somebody, Kenny Roberts senior from memory.

Big H & Ducati have enough horsies to do the job, they are both likely to be looking for corner carving progress

Yamaha & Suzi can carve curves well. They most likely seek more ponies.

All is compromise, this years Suzuki MotoGp bike with 300 horsepower would be a handful. Then more changes must be made to manage all that acceleration & speed. But give me the power and I will work around any problems that develop.

I'm still hoping Aprilia will make big steps, not expecting major progress but hoping.

Enjoy the wine, Sir Shrink.

Agreed. Though the 2020 Duc I think is going to handle a good bit better, another solid big step along the trajectory it has been moving along. The Honda, guessing, will arrive still a bit rough to get around corners, just a bit more composed. Duc needs a standout rider, and it may well come from Yamaha or possibly a KTM kid standout. Orange has a task ahead to keep riders happy enough to stay relative to what Red has on offer?

Yamaha isn't coming w enough motor. Suzuki isn't coming w enough resources and project expansion. The bike is GREAT though, and Q is sure to improve and soon. Aprilia? Not even breathing hard.

KTM is on the pipe. I expect them to close the gap to the front 4. Honda has the Marc, and can afford to bump around then let the motor take care of rest. Wishing they hadn't miracled that motor, hoping they can't make it carve (sorry everyone except MM93).

Cheers mate

that people see KTM and Pol Espargaro as improving over the season, the number's don't back it up.  Over the first 5 races of the season Pol's average finishing position (not points) was 9.8, best finish 6th.  The last 5 races of the season (that he finished) he averaged finishing in 11.4, best finish 10th. 

Extend that to the first/last 8 races he finished (ignoring DNS/DNF) it doesn't look much different at 9.5/10.5.  

For all the malarkey around Zarco's departure you could make a pretty good case that he had some positive input/influence prior, because even after Dani's return from injury the numbers say they went backwards, not forwards.

Apparently Dovi will be racing gocarts next year due to his advancing age and poor showing in motogp this year. According to pretty much everyone here at motomatters. Hmmm...

 

As always, a brilliant article David, thank you.

I think, MM would have a single year contract with Honda like you said, and this will make every other company to have a single year contract with their riders. Also, I think, Ducati will let Petrux go in any case, both Dovi and Pet aren't getting any younger in any case. Jack would take up the seat, again single year, but Ducati, instead of Vinales or Fabio, might pick up someone from KTM, Pol would be a coup. He always looks like someone who would wrestle the Ducati when need arrives. Also, Lecuna, might have an outside chance to join Pecco (If pecco actually makes better results this year), Zarco, I thought isnt going anywhere, as of now.

Same with Fabio, he would like to stay put at Yamaha, he has seen Zarco, Pol and the likes to suffer and lose their significance, lad would do better to stick around and make MM's life hell day-in day-out, he has got years on his plate to jump. Same with Vinales, he knows, Rossi at max will go and race in 2021, not beyond that, if he doesnt retire in 2020 that is. Also, he knows, Rossi debacle at Ducati and Jorge's time as well, Ducati isn't just hard to get a hang of, but it seems the culture is also starkly opposite to the Japanese side. Again, Vinales, still has 2-3 years to give Yamaha without being under the Rossi umbrella, both Vin and Yamaha deserves so see that part happening.

Suzuki seems to be the most stable place, Rins will be a title contender for 2020 and 2021. And Mir as an advantage of Suzuki that seems to be the only factory still believing in the idea of nurturing and growing together.

Now, this brings me to the major concern, With every rider effectively looking for a single year contract, what would happen to the whole 'Bike Development' game? woulnt the bikes start becoming harder and harder to race? If you are decidng your contracts 5 races in the season, who is going to develop the bike for you? recently retired MotoGP riders? may be, but we all know it is not exactly a solution, Stoner's work is an example for both Ducati and Honda. Let's see If Jorge does indeed take up Yamaha testing. (I would rather see Jorge become test rider for Ducati).

But it seems, we are looking at harder to ride bikes if we are getting into such single year contracts and it would end up being counter productive, eventually.

Thanks.

Rider development may take a back seat with competent test teams plus 2 day events and less testing. All this might be making 1 year contracts a good idea. At least for the first year.

I think Pol genuinely wants to stay, pushing the orange spearhead fwd further. He over rides a rough bronco well. And no, there isn't really. He may be right where he should be, unless it were Cal's spot, but not a good step.

I'd love to see that. Would suck for KTM but increase the amount of bikes regularly fighting for podiums