Valentino Rossi says he will decide whether to stay with Ducati or make a shock move back to Yamaha in 2013 during the forthcoming short summer break.
Speculation about Rossi’s future plans has hit fever pitch in California, particularly after Ben Spies dropped a bombshell earlier this week by announcing he will leave Yamaha at the end of the season.
Rossi didn’t name Yamaha during a pre-event press conference at Laguna Seca today (Thursday) when speaking of his future options, but he said he had possibilities for 2013 other than Ducati, who have been desperate to get the nine-times world to sign a new two-year deal.
That inevitably means Rossi is talking to Yamaha about completing a shock return to partner bitter rival Jorge Lorenzo.
Rumour is rife that Rossi has a big money sponsor lined up to back Yamaha’s official factory squad, which has been without a naming rights backer since Rossi quit at the end of 2010.
Rossi said: “The situation is quite clear and I still haven’t decided. I have spoken a lot with Ducati for next year and I am still waiting for some details and some important things on the contract. I have also some other option for next year but the situation will be more clear in the next weeks and I think in the summer break I will decide for next year.”
Rossi again made it clear that riding a competitive bike in 2013 is more important than any financial package he can secure.
If he re-joined Yamaha he would like have to swallow a substantial pay cut but he would at least know that being on a factory YZR-M1 1000cc would give him the best opportunity to add to his 105 Grand Prix victories.
Rossi’s Ducati spell has been a disaster and the 33-year-old has only finished on the podium in two out of 26 races and never looked like challenging for victory.
He added: “Sincerely from my point of view the money is not very important. If not I would have already made my decision. Everything has some positive and negative things and I have to make a balance of it all and then make a decision. From one side I have a lot of work to do and with some other choice it is safer to be more competitive in a short period. It also a particular moment in my career, so I have to decide what is important for the future.”
Rossi's current team-mate Nicky Hayden has agreed a new one-year deal with Ducati and an announcement is expected this weekend in his home race at Laguna Seca.