Rossi: "Yamaha Have To Decide Between Me And Lorenzo"

The Rossi-to-Ducati saga continues apace, with maneuvering for the 2011 contract negotiations taking place even on the grid of the final race of 2009. Interviewed for BBC television, Valentino Rossi got in a powerful blow, demanding that Yamaha make a decision about which of their two star riders they want to build their future on. "Yamaha have to choose between me and Jorge for 2011," Rossi told the BBC.

The Italian freely admitted he had been approached by Ducati, and that he had an option to ride there. "I could change bike, ride for Ducati and try to win the world championship with an Italian bike. That would be a great motivation," Rossi said.

At the same time, Rossi underlined his strong relationship with Yamaha. "I prefer at this moment to stay with Yamaha because the love between me and Yamaha, our relationship, is something special." 

Rumors of Ducati's courtship of Rossi have triggered a feeding frenzy in the Italian media, who are desperately keen for the match up to take place. However, plenty of room for doubt remains over how serious Rossi is in considering leaving Yamaha, as the Italian is renowned for making public statements to achieve a desired effect, either from a team, a factory, a rival or even the sport of MotoGP itself. Rossi's statements fit neatly into this pattern of putting pressure on one party, in order to achieve the goals he set himself for the future.

Rossi's statements put Yamaha in a precarious position, and with a genuinely difficult decision to make. The factory is clearly looking for a successor for when Rossi retires, and had lined Jorge Lorenzo up for that role. That plan has been stymied by two developments: Lorenzo has reached the level of challenging for world titles more quickly than Yamaha had expected; and Rossi is enjoying racing more and looking fitter than he has done in years, clearly relishing the challenge and finding motivation to postpone his expected retirement indefinitely.

There is no doubt that Yamaha faces a difficult choice, and it is a complex one indeed. Rossi will continue to sell motorcycles for Yamaha for as long as his name is associated with the brand, both while he is riding and for years and probably decades to come. However, his selling power may well drop off a little once he stops actively racing for Yamaha, and if the factory is to continue to reap the marketing benefits of success in racing, it needs a rider that they can be sure can keep on winning races and championships.

Jorge Lorenzo proved that he is capable of winning races, and looks very likely to secure multiple championships. Whether Yamaha can find someone else to fulfill the role of Star Of The Future if Lorenzo leaves remains to be seen. The problem of Lorenzo and Rossi in a single team remains an intractable one. But is is one that Yamaha will have to face in 2010.

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Added to that is the fact that Yamaha also have Ben Spies who will be gunning for a seat on the factory team in 2011, and will still be under contract to Yamaha, while the other two won't be.

Total votes: 4

on the same team is always a risk. No other team has two top riders within the same grouping.

creates conflict within a team, fracturing it, and potentially creating focus issues when planning future bikes. In a team with two number ones, who do you listen to?

Total votes: 5

That means Stoner would have to go else where... and to partner whome?
Ducati to lose the only guy that makes the bike look good.

Total votes: 2

I dunno but it looks like casey is red hot for the title already for next year. I may be a bit excited but judging from the last couple of races and even here in valencia he was trully setting some incredible lap times.
If Casey is in top form next year i'm pretty sure he'll want to stay with ducati and if lorenzo pose another threat to rossi and he decides to leave...
...Then why go to ducati to partner stoner?
...Would he be the number 1 rider at ducati while stoner is a proven winner on the troublesome duc?
...Would he bring Jeremy and the gang with him and force out stoner and oh build up a wall between them?
I wish i had a magical remote that could fast fwd time to the first practice session of the weekend for next year!!

Total votes: 5

He wrecked on the warm up lap...
FernandoARG

Total votes: 4

This type of Prima Donna attitude is what Rossi is famous for. His vanity is almost as large as his talent. If nothing else it should serve to motivate Lorenzo even further. This sort of ego maniacal banter would get any other rider in the world a pink slip. But Rossi IS(!) MotoGP! Dorna and all the manufacturers know this and will stop at nothing to ensure that he stays "Happy". If he isn't happy with Lorenzo then who will he be happy with as a Team mate? Spies is the obvious first person that may have to walk out onto that gangplank. If Rossi stays at Yamaha and continues to make demands like this then no top level rider (with any self esteem) will sign there. Rossi has always had, and has always preferred to have, a clear cut understudy, not a peer! Lorenzo has shown that he has the speed to challenge Rossi week in Week out. Rossi is now clearly attempting to chalk this up purely to the development work he and Burgess have done at Yamaha. Perhaps rightly so, but that is partly what he gets paid the Kings ransom for! Should Spies show good form next year does that then hazard his future at Yamaha? Who knows but I will bet you the number Rossi signs for next year will be absurd to the extreme, with ancillary demands to match!

Total votes: 4

Yamaha tipped their hand by saying they wanted to lock Rossi in forever. When someone tips their hand in negotiations, it's not a cue for the opponent to let off. That's when you up the ante and see what they do. I have a feeling we'll read about a lifetime contract with Yamaha sometime in this off season. It will be for a lot of money and it will be worth it for everyone involved. But I can understand his want to be the clear #1 in the team because he has done the bulk of the development work. He's in a position where his labor is not his to keep. Yamaha will share it with his #1 rival. It can't be a comfortable position. He says there is an offer from Ducati. I'm sure there is but it will likely be pulled off the table for a year if Casey dominates (as looks like a distinct possibility) in 2010. But as soon as Stoner falters, they'll toss him overboard in a second. Honda has even said the door is open to Rossi and team returning. If Yamaha Doesn't pony up the dough, I bet we'll see Rossi back with Honda for the final year or two of his career. He'll probably want to see out the 800s and win the first crown of the new formula. Tall order, but possible. My crystal ball sees Pedrosa on the factory Suzuki team in 2011 or 2012 run by Aspar with Telefonica backing. How long is Denning's contract with Suzuki? Stoner retires from the limelight far too early but mounts a comeback after loosing all his money he invested with Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan in a failed Malaysian amusement park.

Total votes: 4

Ok so ideally the factory team is always going to have top riders in the class. Yamaha were fortunate enough to have Rossi along with Lorenzo who really stepped up this year. True Rossi was there first and helped make the M1 a championship winning bike, so he deserves credit and should hold a higher place within Yamaha.

Lorenzo wants more involvement and also recognition, which he does deserve. I think how Yamaha deals with this could set a precedent for the other factories to follow. For example, if Yamaha gave Rossi and Lorenzo both development opportunities and then got them to work together it could be a great thing. While the divided pit boxes as of lately do not help this situation, i.e. Hayden and Pedrosa, Rossi and Lorenzo, etc. although the Rossi/Lorenzo wall was necessitated by different tire manufacturer's last season.

Take Stoner and Hayden at Ducati, it was the first time (I think, but not definite) that two champions, 2006 and 2007, have been on the same team. Think about how much depth that adds to a team! Hayden has shown he can learn how to ride the Ducati over the course of the season, while he still is a little ways from the "Fab. Four" he definitely adds to the team.

I remember hearing a while back that Honda only cared about having as many riders at the top of the race standings and overall standings as possible. They didn't care about having one rider win and the rest filtered throughout, they wanted their riders all up in the top, if they could have 1-6 positions all Honda riders then they did their job. Of course that is extremely difficult when you have such great riders on other bikes.

Whatever happens I'm sure it will be good for the championship and the sport. Rossi knows how to play the media and usually stirs the pot in a good way I think. I believe deep down Rossi would love to ride for Ducati and win a championship as would Ducati. However as long as Stoner keeps his current form Ducati is unlikely to part ways with him. Unless Rossi would be willing to sit second to Stoner...

Really I would like to see MV Agusta make a comeback to the series, then get Rossi on board! Know that would be awesome!

Total votes: 3

Chances are that both Rossi and Stoner will stay put. Stoner is to Ducati what Valentino is to Yamaha. The odd guys out and key to the reshuffling are Dani and Jorge. Jorge needs to find himself a nº1 place in a team. He has earned it, and his place is at Honda. Dani's patience with Honda has stared to wear thin. At Honda they respect Dani and his talent, but even such a good match can't stand so many years without winning. Jorge will end up as Hondas nº1 rider and Dani will move to Yamaha. The Yamaha pit wall will suit Puig and Dani just fine (no chance of Suppo and Puig getting on) as will do as an easier handling bike to fit his small frame. Plus Dani will fulfill his dream of following Raineys footsteps (why do you think he prefers numbers 2 and 3 to his own 26) He will also have the patience to wait for Rossi to retire. Rossi's focusing his high profile fights on Stoner and Jorge also work fine for him. Doesn't anyone think that Suppo's "marketing" job at Honda doesnt include finding more markateble talent???? thats Jorge to you.

Total votes: 4

I couldnt believe it when i heard rossi say it-on the bbc!! It was a sharp tooth that spoke those words and done very calmly. When rossi talks or is interviewed he has a team of people standing around him out of view of the cameras-this involves PR,managers,sponsors,reps and this would have had maximum effect on these people. Be sure rossi is clever,on the bike yes,but mentally his is perfect! He will come out of this smelling a damn sight better than lorenzo did a few months back,he may not get everthing he wants but yamaha are more willing to give him the spoils rather then lorenzo. Rossi is proven,he is excellent for development and feedback,he IS motogp,he has done more for yamaha sales wise than any other rider. Loerenzo does have star qualities and was on yamaha's wish list 2 for years (he signed with yamaha 2 years before entering the premier class),but notice how Honda have started baiting other significant players of the paddock-technicians,managers,mechanics. . HRC will be ready for 2011 mark my word,they will want a good enough rider to ride the beast! Rossi will stay in Gp-he may ride an Italian bike in the future-all eyes will be on Stoner then,but if Suppo can get him to Honda for 2011 then it leaves a door open for both rossi and burgess to do their double act in bologna.

Total votes: 4

Rossi certainly has an inflated ego but somewhere in his heart he knows that his is not strong enough a wizard to handle the Ducati. And if he would fail with the Ducati, it would also mean that Stoner is a better racer than him. With his ego he can' t have that.

When 2004 he switch to Yamaha he did so because he was still in his twenties and bored at Honda, winning championships has become routine. That was a time where he hadn't true rivals at his level, so he demonstrated that he could win a championship without the best bike in 2004.

Today he's past 30 and the last years has seen the work cut out of him to become champion. He has no room to play with the other 3 aliens as he did with e.g. Gibernau. He has to give his absolute best, or he'll lose.

That's why I think he won't switch to Ducati. Ducati would be a wild experiment, Rossi certainly watched one talented rider after the other fall prey to the "red nail". And other than Casey Rossi needs a perfect bike to be fast. Just switch back to 2007 and check how much he complained about the motor, the tires and the M1 as a whole. Neither then nor today he mentioned that the Yam had and still has by far the best chasis and suspension (just watch a few slowmo's of different MotoGP bikes braking hard: while all other bikes show noticeable movements while breaking, the Yams show virtually none). That the big bang inline 4 cylinder was and still is the easiest to ride motor of all in MotoGP.

Rossi knows that the Duc is a beast. Horrible to setup, with bad or no feedback and an unpredictable electronic (just ask Melandri). Remember that Casey noted once this year that the team usually works on several different setups during the weekend to find 1 that's usable. I can't imagine Rossi doing this.

So why should he risk to lose all this convenient "oh he's the greatest of all" praises which he got so used to with a switch to a bike he very probably will not handle as miraculous as Casey when he's on the best bike this planet has to offer? Why should he trash the end of his career?

And there is another thing: Many Ducati fans asked Ducati to sign Rossi, and I remember reading in a Desmoblog that Ducati said they couldn't afford him. So Philip Morris pays suddenly a Rossi fee? Why? If they can have Casey for less?
I think there are exactly to teams able to finance Rossi, the Yamaha and Honda factory team. Honda is no option for Rossi any more, that leaves only Yamaha.

Total votes: 3

He left honda because he was bored? that wasn't his, or anyone elses, take on the situation.

and sure rider after rider has failed on the duke... which one of those riders has really done anything in terms of 1) in other 800 teams, or 2) development

Marco - has moments in the 800s, on the kwaka, but he aint no front runner
Nicky - has done naught on the 800s, duke or honda
Loris - fantastic on the 990, ok on the duke 800, nowhere since, purely suzi's fault, or that he is not an alien...

Total votes: 4

I don't remember Rossis commends exactly, but one of his reasons for his switch was "a new challenge", which means Honda wasn't challenge enough.

When comparing the capability of MotoGP bikes one can compare where the "midpack" guys are running, and the Duc's weren't there the last 3 seasons, they were at the end of the field.
Contrarily this year 3 of the 4 Yam's were usually within the top 6.
Statistics don't lie.

Nicky Hayden is the only one so far to recover from the "red blow". I think he's more important to the whole Ducati team than the Ducati guys realize so far.
I have confidence in him that he will make a rideable bike out of the Bologna beast.

And with regards to development: Unfortunately none has really insight in the development process of the teams.
I think it's very probable that the rider isn't that important with regards to development decisions.
That's why I'm skeptic when I read Rossi or who ever is a good development rider, I think it's rather down to the capabilities of the technical engineers like Jeremy Burgess.

Total votes: 5

Read Rossis book for his actual commetns - mainly relating to Hondas attitude that Bike is everything, Rider is nothing. One of the reasons he was not willing to go to Ducati.

You say midpack, then include two aliens in the mix. If you want to compare midpack, aka 5th place and beyond - you have Yamaha, Honda, honda, honda, Suzuki, kawasaki, suzuki=honda, ducati, yamaha, ducati, ducati and onwards

of this group, Honda has the most riders near the top, they also have the most bikes. Assuming the bikes are identical, what does that leave between james nad colin?

Any development is a team effort. Without adequate feedback, making changes to any system is potluck. Feedback in the early days came solely from the rider. Currently, jeremy has feedback from multiple avenues, electronic everything. But unless the rider is able to verbalise what the electronic feedback means to him riding the bike around the track, it is worthless. Because ultimately, the rider has to be comfortable on the bike and confident in that bike. An engineer altering the setup without working with the rider is going to be going nowhere. Teams are fun like that.

A good development rider is just one that provides accurate and precise (not the same thing) feedback to his team.

Total votes: 6

I heard about this reasoning from Rossi (regarding the Honda contract 2004). But I also read that Rossi was demanding from Honda to fall on their knees. I read his demands were insults. So he was deliberately pursuing the split up.

I never heard about this "Honda attitude" in connection with Ducati and Rossi. Contrarily I read in Desmoblogs that Ducati would do everything if there would be a chance to get him.

You're right, the factory Yam's are not midpack. So lets compare Colin, James with Nicky, Mika, Nicolo and Sete. Have you checked the championship end result? And? Does that contradict my argument?
Oh, and btw, Melandri, who you wrote wasn't impressive on the 800's, is 10th on the unsupported Kwak in the standings while Nicky is 13th on the factory bike.

Colin vs James: very difficult to understand. Spies was faster in Valencia than James on his first weekend on the Yam. My best guess is that James put so much pressure on himself that eventually he was mentally blocked.

I have a very good example where the rider alone didn't make the difference in terms of development: Nicky Hayden worked hard with the Honda team to improve the 800's with little to no success. He worked hard again with Ducati and improved from the bottom of the list to one of the "best of the rest". He continues doing this with the GP10.
To me this shows pretty good how important the engineers around the riders are. And I think it also shows that the engineers impact on development is bigger than that of the riders.

Total votes: 7

Please do not forget the Hayden-Pedrosa issue, just to show a little bit of the Honda mentality, THEY DONT CARE WHO IS WINNIG AS LONG AS THEY ARE, rookie year for Dani and nobody bothered to give the young kid some advice, championship almost in the bag for Nicky and he got taken out by his own teammate, not the first time that happened at the wingy brand (Honda), Creville and Mick had issues that Honda never bothered to take care of, now Honda is a great brand, but very selfish as far as development and rider appreciation goes, Dont forget either HRC president at Rossi's time when he so proudly said that the only reason why Rossi won was because of the bike, uhmmm, i think he was wrong no? Now lets not get carried away and start a fight over something i have nothing to argue about, he has won 9 tittles, so i think that's where it all stops, you should read Rossi's book, maybe some of the passion this guy has for motorcycles should translate into the organization so it could go back to the glamour it used to have, a lot of the younger riders have helped this organization get the way its going, no passion no loyalty, just MONEY...

Total votes: 8

Honda doesn't care who is winning? Do you think other brands have a rider they prefer to be world champ? And if this even were the case, would that be a good thing? At this level there is no doing favors.
And Honda is selfish for not giving team orders?
Pedrosa and Dovizioso are in it for the money? They have no passion?

I really don't follow you here...

Total votes: 4

That's why they have a number 1 rider?, maybe i'm wrong but isn't that why lorenzo is making such demands?, same bike as Rossi? humm, They do have favors and favoritism, if not we wouldn't be talking here, i never said anything about Dovi and Dani not following orders, though they have nothing to fight for, or at least not Dovi, And money, Im talking about Lorenzo, they talk how great he is, (im a fan), but has he won anything? hummm, No, no he hasn't, before making demands, win a couple of championships, like Rossi, 3 OF THEM, before making demands, its amazing how fast people forget things Lo...

Total votes: 7

Isn't changing jobs always down to the need of a 'new challenge' ;)

Total votes: 5

I just thought about how Yamaha will react. They are not the will-less victims to Rossi's threats as they might look at first sight.

They hired Lorenzo AGAINST the will of Rossi. This was a message: We pay you ridiculous amounts of money, but if everything fails, we still have a very good alternative.
This was no coincident, so I doubt they simply axe Lorenzo.

AND: They know that now they DO have an alternative to Rossi if they want to win championships, actually they have 3.

Hm. I'm very curious how they'll react.

Total votes: 3

I don't think Yamaha likes to be blackmailed. When Lorenzo first came to Yamaha's attention, they already made clear they decide who is to join the program, not Rossi.
I don't think Lorenzo will leave by himself and I can't imagine Yamaha ditching such a great talent. It will be very interesting to see where all this is going... As far as I'm concerned, Lorenzo's provocation that he would 'like to stay with Yamaha for the rest of his career' worked :)

Total votes: 4

Its easy to be blackmailed when you have said to the world that you will do anything to retain somebodies services

Total votes: 4

Agreed. If they stay by these words literally then you're right.

But if they're feeding the press such notes just to keep Rossi happy while at the same time preparing for the "Post-Rossi" days, investing in Spies and Lorenzo, than this was just yet another inflated PR blabla. Good to bind Rossi fans to Yamaha (and get money out of them) and to keep 1 more alien in service.

Total votes: 7

Besides, I think threatening to leave has much bigger emotional impact on the 'opposite party' than offering to do everything to keep someone on board.

Total votes: 5