Valentino Rossi has insisted he is “not in a rush” to confirm whether he will continue as a MotoGP rider beyond 2018, but added that he feels “positive” and “optimistic” about upcoming negotiations with Yamaha.

A great deal of speculation has surrounded the future of the 38-year old Italian in recent months, who is preparing for a near unprecedented 23rd year in grand prix racing, and 19th in the premier class.

Toward the end of last year Rossi had insisted that he would use the first six races of '18 to gauge his competitiveness against opponents some 15 years his junior. Should he remain a regular podium challenger, Rossi said, he would extend.

At Movistar Yamaha team’s launch in Madrid, Rossi revealed he had recently spoken to factory managing director Lin Jarvis, and relayed his hopes of evaluating his performance at the three preseason tests - and “maybe the first three races” of the year - before coming to a decision.

Still, the nine-time world champion indicated that, other than the length of the contract, which could be either one or two years, the rest of the details were more or less agreed. “We are quite ready,” he said. “I don’t think we need to discuss a lot.”

Movistar Yamaha Team Director Massimo Meregalli also added to the feeling a renewal could be incoming. Asked to share his thoughts on Rossi’s situation, Meregalli offered, “[I think] That he won’t stop.”

“I spoke with Lin two or three days ago, and he told me about Maverick,” said Rossi, referencing Yamaha’s extending of team-mate Viñales’ contract until 2020, which was announced on Wednesday.

“But sometimes in the past I signed before, sometimes later, it depends on different factors. Like I said to Lin, I want to wait, especially for the tests, and maybe the first three races overseas.

“But we are quite ready and I don't think we need to discuss a lot about the contract. So we are positive and optimistic. We are not in a rush. And I think we will say something after the first races.”

This sentiment was backed up by team director Meregalli, who added, “If he [Valentino] says [he will decide] after the first or two or three races, it will be after the first two or three races.”

Rossi has tended to shake on two-year agreements since his return from Ducati in 2013. In this instance, however, Yamaha is “open” to the idea of offering him a one or two year deal, depending on his preference.

“Usually we speak always about two years, but it can be also one year,” he said. “Yamaha is open, so now we will think and we will speak together to try to understand, so it could be one or two years.”

Asked to analyse the two sides to a possible upcoming decision, Rossi added, “About the motivation, I think that after a long career, you know what happens, you know what you have to do to be competitive during the season, and you know the effort, the strength that you need to do.

“The point is that you have to decide, am I still there, do I still have enough motivation to give 100% to keep the concentration and train every day, or do I prefer to stay at home on the sofa and watch the races on the television or to work with the young riders? This is the decision I have to take, if I want to continue or not.”

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