MotoGP: Valentino Rossi expects increased focus on race performance at Petronas Yamaha

Valentino Rossi is a satellite rider for the first time since 2001
Valentino Rossi is a satellite rider for the first time since 2001

Valentino Rossi believes that being inside a satellite team will allow him to concentrate more on his race performance rather than focusing on bike development.

The 42-year-old will race alongside VR46 Academy member Franco Morbidelli at the Petronas Yamaha team this season, becoming a satellite rider for the first time since 2001. Since that time, he's been inside the factory garages of Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, with high levels of pressure placed on his shoulders.

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However, it's known that the atmosphere within satellite teams is much more relaxed compared to their factory counterparts, with less pressure placed on them from the manufacturer's management. Speaking to the media for the first time since his switch, Rossi outlined the positives he believes will come from this.

"I was a factory rider for a long, long time - for 19 seasons," Rossi told MCN. However, for my first seasons in 500cc I was in a similar situation because I was in a satellite team. It's true that it was 20 years ago and that 500s was a different world, but in that moment, I was very comfortable.

"From what I understand there will be less people working around the bike, but also in a satellite team the way you work is a little bit different. You can think more about the performance in the race, rather than the development of the bike during the season. This can be good, but I’m happy about my technical situation because I have the full support from Yamaha and this team has already demonstrated in their first two seasons that they can win races."

The nine-time world champion also outlined his expectations for the upcoming season, with Rossi already being questioned about his future and the possibility of retiring at the end of 2021 - which is his 26th year of Grand Prix racing.

"This is a very important season for me because the last two seasons were less than what I expected them to be, especially with the results. The results will be key, I want to be competitive, to be strong that the last two years, to fight for the podium and for wins, and try to be competitive throughout the season.

"It’s not an easy decision but for sure everything depends on the results. I think that if I can be competitive, if I can fight for the victory and the podium, I can continue for another year. But this is my idea, I haven’t spoken to the team, I haven’t spoken with Yamaha, maybe they say to me that I don’t have the decision – it’s possible!"

Rossi explained that he will make a decision at the half-way stage of the season, during the summer break. Once again, the Italian also expressed his desire to race on for wheels once he does step away from MotoGP.

Rossi will get his first chance to ride his Petronas Yamaha M1 this Saturday (March 6) on the opening day of the two-day Qatar test. He'll then have three more days of testing at the same circuit on March 10-12.

As things stand the 2021 season will begin at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar, on March 28, followed by round two at the same circuit the following weekend (April 4).

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.