Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Should Rossi retire?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Should Rossi retire?

The nine-time world champ just had his worst season outside of his Ducati years. Many people think it’s time for Valentino Rossi to say goodbye to MotoGP. But why should he?

Ten years ago, when Valentino Rossi was already the old man of the MotoGP grid, he was worried about keen youngsters like Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner coming to get him.

“They are like sharks circling around me,” he told journalists during the 2009 Mugello GP. “If I am not strong, I know that they will eat me in one bite. They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, ‘okay, now is the time’.”

Stoner retired at the end of 2012, Pedrosa at the end of last year and Lorenzo at the end of last weekend, while Rossi keeps soldiering on, now preparing for his 25th season in Grand Prix racing.

There are many amazing Rossi statistics, but here is the most jaw-dropping of them all: since world championship racing began in 1949 there’s been about 940 Grands Prix, of which Rossi has competed in more than 400.

However, 2019 was Rossi’s worst-ever season, apart from his two years with Ducati. During 2019 he took home an average 9.1 points from each race, against 22.3 points per race in his best season, in 2003, when 2019 rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo wasn’t long out of nappies.

So is it time for the 40-year-old to follow Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and the rest into retirement?

It’s a stupid question, of course. But there are enough people asking the question to address it.

Why do people think Rossi should retire? There are a few reasons: he’s no longer fast enough, he’s tarnishing his legacy, he’s upsetting fans with his lacklustre results, he should give up his ride to a youngster and on the way up.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Total votes: 23
Total votes: 14

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Comments

It is taken for granted that Rossi helps Yamaha to sell more bikes. But does he really influence a buyer more than the performance or styling a particular bike? I am a long time Moto GP fan and I bought a Kawasaki. 

Total votes: 21

Proves the writers point, the manufacturers all benefit from Rossi. If you're a Euro it's like Messi, if you're an American it's like Tom Brady, the whole sport benefits from Rossi, notice the interest in Lorenzo retiring, after Rossi it will be Marquez, there is always an icon in every sport, someday it will be someone else.

Total votes: 10

I'm strangely in the don't care camp. But think he's holding others back now.

The Germans say schon fertig (sorry bout the umlout) and I think thats fair now

 

Total votes: 20

that does not go into the tendencial too easy sensational side of ... that is time for a hero to die. Because media sometimes tend to treat sporters like rockstars.. they think they make them and want to see them shine, but when they shine too long often there is a desire to make them drop dramatically by writing about irrelevance, not creatively, not bringing new material or take to much risk..... trying new things

What is umentioned however i feel is that what used to be Rossi strenght as a rider is the lack of weaknesses overal, which can be said about the Yamaha as well. Now MotoGP seems to come to a point that strong points bring the results, rather then homogenity. 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 10

If he's still enjoying it I agree with Matt - everything else is peripheral. 4 wheeled metal/carbon boxes will never provide the same experience/pleasure. Ask Lewis H.

If his performance drops below 99.7% of the rest I think he will make the decision for himself. Let him. You don't change crew chief because you have accepted second best. I don't see VR doing a Bayliss either - he will stay at the premier level either riding or managing. He will want to be in the top flight whatever he does. He has the knowledge, skill, and personality to do whatever he wishes.

Total votes: 18

He's addicted to the adrenalin, the fame and notoriety, the adulation of his fans and of being "Numero 1" in MotoGP. He can't walk away from that, though it may now be in his best interests. Like any junkie he needs help to quit. His results are bottoming. Next year he'll find himself lower down the field.

Total votes: 22

Looking at Rossi's career results indicate that he has been on the down slope of his career for about ten years. His first year in the newly formed Motogp class Rossi finished no lower than second with 11 wins, 4 seconds and one DNF - very similar to Marc's 2019 season. Each one of Rossi's championship winning seasons from 2002 through 2008, with two different manufacturers, Rossi won either 9 or 11 races per season. Two-thousand and nine was the first season in Motogp that Rossi won the championship with less than 9 wins (6). The following year he broke his leg and the next two years he floundered at Ducati. When Rossi returned to the Yamaha fold in 2013 he had both Lorenzo and Marquez to contend with (along with Pedrosa and everyone else) and he only won one race with a total of 6 podiums. The following year he won 2 races and tallied 13 podiums. Rossi's last year that he competed for the championship through the entire season was 2015 when he totaled 4 wins and 15 podiums. This is a much lower win/podium ratio than his earlier years. Since 2015 Rossi's results have steadily declined. Two wins and 10 podiums in 2016, one win and 6 podiums in 2017, no wins and 5 podiums in 2018 and only two second places this past season. In fact Rossi's 2019 results are eerily similar to his second season with Ducati. Clearly the results indicate that wins and podiums are getting harder to achieve for Rossi for whatever reason. It can be argued that there are multiple contributing factors, but saying age is not one of them is not prudent. It feels like life speeds up as one ages, but the truth seems to be that that which perceives and interprets life is slowing down. 

If it was all about wins and podiums then Rossi was clearly outperformed by both his teammate and the rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo this past season. If he was anybody else there might be strategic maneuverings taking place right now in the background behind close doors to swap Rossi with Quartararo for 2020. The question Mat Oxley poses is one that only Rossi can answer. Let's hope that Rossi's pride and longing for past glory doesn't get in the way of his decision making. It was hard watching Capirossi during his last couple of seasons finishing near the back of the grid. If Rossi is soundly beaten by Viñales and Quartararo again in 2020 then it makes no sense for him to stay in the factory team, or at least to deprive Quartararo and Viñales of factory bikes and support. Regardless of what happens it'll be interesting and entertaining watching it all play out.   

Total votes: 22

And I don't mean emotionally or psychologically. No, my concern is that Vale is completely unequipped to put food on the table or keep a roof over his head after leaving MotoGP. I am fond of the lad, but lets face it...he pissed away most of his life fooling around with this motorbike nonsense, and so now finds himself over 40 and with no marketable skills to offer an employer. And his dodgy employment history is not working in his favor either...eleven different employers starting with Scuderia AGV Aprilia in 1996? Are we hiring a productive adult or Peter Pan? And then there will be the interviews...

Mr. Rossi, you were scheduled to be here at 8:00 AM and it is now just past noon..."For sure, I don't do 8:00 AM, this is the correct time"

Well, lets get started. Please tell us about your People Skills..."My people skills are excellent. Everyone does what I want, even my bosses".

I see...so tell us, how would you resolve work related issues with a peer?..."Personal vendetta. I do not forget"

What would you say was your most significant accomplishment of the previous five years..."Personal vendettas, many of them. I forget nothing"

You have listed Rossifumi and Valentinik as professional references, may we contact them?..."OK, sure, but only one at a time, never together".

We appreciate that your CV states that you are multilingual, but we are a bit concerned that you seem to swear so much more in English than in your native Italian. Have you ever been exposed to Australians or New Zealanders, and if so what precautions did you take to protect yourself?..."Yes, the f*****g Ozzies and Kiwis, for sure they are a big f*****g problem. Maybe I start a f*****g vendetta".

Well, thank you for your time. We will contact you if a position becomes available..."No f*****g worries...scusa, scusa...you can leave the message with Uccio. Ciao"

So Vale can just forget the private sector, the man is a an employment train wreck. Polleria Osvaldo wouldn't give him a job as an unpaid intern. So then what, a government job? The only one Vale would be even remotely qualified for would be driving the Metro Transit Bus in Tavullia. But how long will that last once the constant whinging about lack of traction and my bus couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding, all the other busses are faster starts? And what about him wanting new tires on the bus every 40 minutes, then coming back only ten minutes later wanting different new tires because you gave him the wrong ones? And what the heck is up with that "WLF" thing he has sewn onto his official bus driver's uniform? He won't make it to then end of his first shift.

But Vale had better find something, and find it quick. Sure, he probably has a few Euros squirreled away somewhere, and there is that Tee Shirt business he and Uccio started a while back, but how long will that last? I mean, have you seen his lifestyle? His girlfriend? His two Golden Retrievers, like just plain Retrievers weren't flash enough for him? The kid carries on like some new kind of Lorenzo de' Medici, aka Lorenzo the Magnificent. OK, perhaps with not so much Lorenzo in it, but you get the idea. I figure Vale will burn through his entire kitty in six months unless some downsizing to his lifestyle happens. And I don't mean a little bit either. Dump the Ranch, the Apartments, and the Villas. Your mom says you can have half the garage for your bedroom, and Uccio and Luca said they will help you fix it up. Don't worry about what the current girlfriend thinks of your new pad, because she is getting traded in for a more economical model. Much more economical. As in picture what Carlo Pernat would look like in a blonde wig. Got it? Well Carlo looks better than the new girlfriend...but the good news is not by much. Sadly the market has cratered for used Golden Retrievers, so I guess they are staying. But learn your lesson, next time lease. If you do all of that your retirement nest egg may stretch to eighteen months. Tops. So it is either do all of that or stick with your career in MotoGP. And by "stick" I mean hang on to it like grim death. 50 is the new 30. Well, its not of course...but the Yamaha Bosses in Iwata might not know that (they are just now getting the third season of "Friends" on Iwata Cable).

And the next time you are feeling a bit down in the dumps, and start to have thoughts of a life after racing, just think of Carlo in that blonde wig. Now get back out there and win a few. Cheers.

Total votes: 39

I appreciate your techical knowledge as much as the rest 'round here but now I appreciate your sence of humor even more. That really tickled my funny bone... I was still snickering 15 minutes after reading it. Well done & thanks for the comic relief. :)

Total votes: 14

There are many people who would love Rossi's factory ride. How many of them are actually faster than Rossi? How many of those are already on more competitive bikes?

MM is winning with big margins because he has the weapon he asked for. The Yamaha needs an 1100cc engine to keep up on the straights. Once the preferred line is taken from the Yamahas they virtually have nothing. It's not me saying it. The last 2-3 years have spoken.

Rossi is still the face of MM. Even though MM gas been kicking butt for many years, outside of race fans at least in the US no one has any idea who he is.

Total votes: 9

I have to agree NWslowpoke. Rossi has a huge international profile. 

Many times in several different countries I've been asked "So why did you visit us" I say " here for the MotoGp " often the first reply is " never heard of it" as soon as I say Valentino Rossi they know what I'm talking about.

For the uninitiated V.R. 46 is the brand!

Total votes: 7