Less than two months after winning Suzuki's first MotoGP championship in 20 years, Davide Brivio has decided to leave his role as manager of the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team and move to lead the Alpine F1 team in four-wheel racing's premier class. The move was reported last night by Autosport and confirmed by a press release from Suzuki this morning.
The move comes as a massive shock to Suzuki and the MotoGP world. It is also a serious blow to Suzuki's MotoGP project. Brivio was instrumental in putting the team together to run Suzuki's return to MotoGP in 2015. Brivio joined Suzuki in 2013, at the very beginning of the project which launched the GSX-RR upon the world, and has overseen the team's steady success.
Brivio has been a key player in finding and hiring the staff for the team, as well as being the main driver behind Suzuki's philosophy of trying to hire and develop young talent and turn them into champions. That choice was proven to be correct by Joan Mir winning the 2020 MotoGP title.
The Italian has a history of success. Davide Brivio first entered the World Superbike championship in 1990, running a private team for Yamaha. He then went on to run Yamaha's factory WorldSBK team, before switching to MotoGP in 2002, leading the project when Grand Prix racing went four stroke. Brivio was instrumental in persuading Valentino Rossi to leave Honda and join Yamaha, going on to win five championships for Yamaha with both Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, until he departed Yamaha for Ducati with Rossi.
When Rossi left Ducati at the end of 2012, that left Brivio at a loose end, a situation which Suzuki leaped upon to their benefit. Brivio has been instrumental in not just staff decisions, but he was also one of the drivers behind persuading Suzuki to set up a separate racing department, along the lines of the other major manufacturers. That organizational change made decision-making a great deal easier, and gave the racing department and team much more freedom to act without requiring the approval of Suzuki's top management.
Davide Brivio leaves behind a huge legacy in MotoGP, and big boots for Suzuki to try to fill.
The official press statement from Suzuki appears below:
DAVIDE BRIVIO AND TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR PART WAYS
Team Suzuki Press Office - January 7.
After eight years at the helm of Team Suzuki Ecstar in the role of Team Manager, Davide Brivio and Suzuki have announced an end to their collaboration.
The Italian has been present in the MotoGP World Championship paddock for more than 20 years and has been involved with Suzuki since 2013. He held the position of Team Manager when Suzuki embarked on their new MotoGP project, and has remained in place throughout their rise to success, which was this year topped-off by the incredible World Championship crown achieved by Joan Mir, and the Teams’ Championship title for Team Suzuki Ecstar.
Brivio is pleased with the milestones achieved with Suzuki but now wishes to pursue new challenges in his professional and personal life, away from MotoGP.
Team Suzuki Ecstar appreciate the work done by Davide Brivio, and the excellent goals achieved together. The Suzuki squad now look to the future with sights set high for the 2021 season.
“A new professional challenge and opportunity suddenly came to me and in the end I decided to take it. It has been a difficult decision. The hardest part will be to leave this fabulous group of people, whom I started this project with when Suzuki rejoined the Championship. And it’s hard to say goodbye also to all the people who have arrived over the years to create this great Team. I feel sad from this point of view, but at the same time I feel a lot of motivation for this new challenge - which was the key when I had to decide between renewing my contract with Suzuki or starting a completely new experience.
“Achieving a MotoGP title is something that will remain in the Suzuki history books and it will always have a special place in my life memories. I would like to deeply thank all the Suzuki management for their trust and confidence in me, which they had since the beginning. I would like to thank every single member of our MotoGP group in Japan and at the track, all the Suzuki network, and of course all the riders who rode for the Team in this period, especially Joan and Alex who did a great 2020 season.
“Joan becoming World Champion was a dream come true for me and for all the people who worked hard and accompanied me on this magnificent journey. I wish the best to Team Suzuki MotoGP, I hope that the results in the future will be better and better and I will always be a Suzuki fan. Thanks very much Suzuki!”
Shinichi Sahara – Team Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader:
“Sincerely, it was shocking news for us about Davide’s departure from Team Suzuki Ecstar. It feels like somebody took a part of me, because I always discussed with him how to develop the team and the bikes, and we’ve worked together for a long time. In 2020 we achieved fantastic results despite the unusual and difficult situation due to Covid-19. And 2021 will be an even more important year for us to keep the momentum. Now we are trying to find the best way to cover for the ‘Davide loss’. Luckily in most cases I have had quite a similar way of thinking to him, therefore it is not so difficult to keep the direction we should go as Team Suzuki Ecstar, I think. We would like to wish him the best of luck for the future.”