Yamaha will be the only MotoGP manufacturer without a satellite team next season after RNF switched allegiance to Aprilia.

But speaking before FIM president Jorge Viegas turned heads by stating VR46 would leave Ducati for Yamaha in 2024 (subsequently denied by VR46, see below), Lin Jarvis confirmed the search for a new satellite partner had begun:

“Yes, we are,” Jarvis told Crash.net, when asked if Yamaha were ‘already looking’ at potential satellite teams. “We have the intention to come back [with a satellite team] as soon as possible.”

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After winning the 2021 MotoGP title with Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha lost out to Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia at the final round of this season.

Jarvis said of the growing gap between the number of Yamaha and Ducati (eight) machines on the grid, “Next year it will definitely not be an advantage to only have two bikes!

“For sure they [Ducati] gather a lot of data. They have not only eight bikes, but they have five or six riders that are really fast. They're all fast, but they have five or six that are really exceptional performers.

“All of that availability of data - they can try every tyre [during practice], they can consider everything and then they can evaluate it. For sure it's an advantage.

“[But] we don't want to have eight bikes because it's also a burden. It's an advantage, but it's also a burden to keep supporting eight bikes. So our evaluation is that four is really the optimum number and it's a pity that next year we won't have four.

“But hopefully as soon as possible in the future, we'll come back with a satellite team.”

Yamaha supported two satellite teams in the early years of the 'MotoGP' era, with Tech3 then becoming the sole satellite M1 entry from 2004 until 2019 when the French squad switched to KTM and was replaced by SRT.

Which teams are the obvious satellite Yamaha candidates?

Excluding RNF for obvious reasons, of the other five Independent MotoGP teams, Pramac (Ducati), LCR (Honda), Tech3 (KTM) are already first-in-line with their current manufacturer.

That makes them harder to tempt away, not least because they are more closely intertwined with the factory and already receive the latest spec machinery.

Therefore, the more obvious Yamaha candidates would be VR46 and Gresini, which presently swell the Ducati ranks to four teams and eight riders but only have access to year-old machines.

Giving each manufacturer a satellite team would also be the preferred balance for Dorna which, until Suzuki’s untimely exit, had hoped for a 24-strong grid comprising a factory and satellite team for each of the six manufacturers.

The closest that can happen now is four bikes from four of the manufacturers, and six from the other.

Yamaha and VR46, will it ever happen?

Given Valentino Rossi’s long history with Yamaha, rumours of a satellite team tie-up with the Italian have been running ever since the formation of the VR46 team, which made its Moto3 debut in 2014.

The VR46 project steadily climbed the grand prix ladder, entering Moto2 in 2017 and then running Luca Marini’s side of the Avintia MotoGP garage ahead of a full premier-class entry for 2022.

That coincided with the completion of the Sepang Racing Team’s initial three-year M1 deal and Yamaha admitted SRT and VR46 were likely to be the only candidates for 2022 and beyond.

Negotiations were complicated by the fact that Rossi was a Petronas SRT rider at the time and, ultimately, it was decided that Yamaha would stick with the multi-race-winning Sepang project.

That sent VR46 into the arms of Ducati, with a three-year deal officially announced in late June 2021. But the ink was barely dry when shock rumours began emerging that Petronas wouldn’t renew with SRT.

The Petronas-Sepang split was confirmed in August, forcing the team to disband at the end of the year. Had Yamaha known of the Petronas exit, it might well have swung the satellite deal in VR46’s favour (although VR46 also underwent sponsor uncertainty with Aramco backing out).

All of which meant Yamaha eventually made a cautious one-year commitment to Razlan Razali’s new RNF project, born out of SRT’s ashes.

Both parties initially indicated a contract extension was expected but wasn't helped by the lack of results for Andrea Dovizioso (who retired from MotoGP after Misano) and rookie Darryn Binder.

With Yamaha thought to only be offering another single-year deal, RNF began looking elsewhere and decided on a switch to Aprilia for 2023 and beyond, leaving Yamaha with only its factory team of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli next season.

Salucci: VR46 won’t break Ducati deal

Asked about Suzuki’s departure and Yamaha dropping to two bikes next season, Viegas, newly re-elected as FIM president, had told Italy’s RAI TV station:

"I don’t see this situation as being particularly good. But I think it will only be for 2023. In 2024, Valentino Rossi’s team will switch from Ducati to Yamaha.

"For now it’s an idea and nothing is confirmed, but I’m sharing some news. There will be six Ducatis and four Yamahas."

But VR46’s team principal Alessio Salucci insisted he had no knowledge of such plans, pointing out the current Ducati deal runs until the end of 2024.

“I don’t know why Viegas fired off this bombshell, it’s a bit strange because we don’t know anything about it,” ‘Uccio’ told GPOne.com.

“I repeat, we have a three-year contract with Ducati that will expire in 2024, with the possibility of renewing it for another two years. We will certainly respect [the contract in place until 2024], then we will see in 2025 whether to continue or not.

“As I’ve always said, for us the important thing is to have competitive bikes.”

The last line can be interpreted to favour either Ducati or Yamaha.

On the one hand, all but Quartararo struggled badly with the Yamaha this season, as VR46 knows only too well with its Academy rider Franco Morbidelli.

On the other hand, VR46 has been downgraded from one set of factory-spec bikes for Luca Marini to year-old bikes for both Marini and Marco Bezzecchi next season.

What about Gresini?

If VR46 intends to honour its current Ducati contract and Yamaha wants a satellite team on the grid for 2024, its best option on paper would probably be Gresini.

Upon separating from Aprilia’s factory project and returning to full Independent status, Gresini signed a two-year deal with Ducati.

The first season brought instant success, with Enea Bastianini’s four wins (and third in the world championship) also making Gresini the only Independent team to have won MotoGP races with more than one manufacturer (after 14 victories with Honda from 2002-2014).

But might Gresini try and win with three different manufacturers in future?

“Our agreement with Ducati covers 2022 and 2023,” Gresini’s Carlo Merlini told Crash.net when asked about any Yamaha talks. “[Our] 2024 plans are still under discussion.”

With Bastianini moving to the official Ducati team, Alex Marquez will ride alongside Fabio di Giannantonio at Gresini in 2023.