2021 is going to be a decisive season for Valentino Rossi. Then again, we have been saying that for some time, as the 42-year-old Italian MotoGP legend continues his career well beyond what even the most experienced MotoGP hands ever expected. Will he carry on racing? Has he still got what it takes to chase podiums and win races? Is a seventh MotoGP title and tenth Grand Prix title still a realistic possibility?
Those are big questions after Rossi's worst ever season in Grand Prix racing. The Italian scored his lowest points total with 66 points from 12 races, his lowest points average at 5.5 points a race, and his worst finishing position in the championship with a 15th position. He scored a single podium, matching his previous worst season tally in Grand Prix in 2011, when he also ended with just one podium during his disastrous first year at Ducati.
For 2021, Rossi moves to the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. The Italian must put his faith in the benefits of the best-run satellite team in MotoGP, and in Yamaha's engineers having learned the costly lessons of last year, and finding a solution to the M1's turning woes.
The Petronas Yamaha SRT team held a zoom media debrief with Rossi ahead of the first test of 2021, the first opportunity the media have had to talk to the Italian since he joined the Malaysian squad for this season. Rossi talked about moving to a satellite team, his hopes and expectations for 2021, how he will make a decision on his future, and his friendship with new teammate Franco Morbidelli.
Q: You are back in a satellite team after a long time as a factory rider. Are you hoping to thrive in a more relaxed environment?