When the factory Yamaha team decided they couldn't wait for Valentino Rossi to decide his MotoGP future and would sign Fabio Quartararo instead, they pledged to give the Italian a satellite seat should he race on in 2021.

But that promise meant Yamaha passed the uncertainty over Rossi's future onto the Petronas team, which cannot now complete its 2021 rider line-up until The Doctor makes his decision.

It would have been a bigger problem had the season started on time, since many of the top riders might have signed before Rossi's rough deadline of June.

Rossi wanted to use the opening 6-7 races to judge his competitiveness. But had the nine-time world champion then elected to retire, Petronas could have faced a scramble to fill the seat Yamaha had been 'reserving' for him.

Instead, the coronavirus-delay means waiting for Rossi probably won't be much of an issue for Petronas, with most rider contract talks currently on hold.

It also looks all-but-certain that the 41-year-old will now choose to continue in 2021, being naturally unwilling to end his illustrious career with a short ten-race season, at best. And potentially no 2020 season at all.

But much is still to be discussed about Rossi's potential Petronas deal.

Indeed, Sepang team principal Razlan Razali said he is yet to have any direct contact with the Italian or his VR46 management.

"I keep checking my phone every day and so far I haven’t seen anything! I'm hoping that at least Valentino will send a WhatsApp or something!" joked Razali, during an interview with Crash.net.

"So far nothing, so we are keeping it open for him.

"If it happens, it's something that we will definitely look at. We will not shut it and ignore it. He is a nine-time world champion and carries a lot of weight in terms of marketing and exposure.

"But we really need to understand the deal. What are the dos and don’ts? We need to understand what he wants."

What might the dos and don'ts be?

It seems both Yamaha and Petronas must approve the satellite team's rider line-up. Assuming both agree that Rossi at Petronas is the right move, there would still be other issues to resolve.

It's known that Rossi would be on a 'Factory contract' if he continues, which presumably means Yamaha will continue to pay his wages and machine lease costs.

But will Rossi be on a simple one-year deal, or will there be options in place (on either rider or factory side) to stay for 2022?

Will Rossi again want to bring his loyal team of mechanics (some of whom have been at his side since joining the premier-class in 2000) and new-for-2020 crew chief David Munoz over to Petronas?

If so, Quartararo might be more than happy to take his present crew with him to the factory squad. But if Rossi only stays for one season and then retires, would his mechanics do the same, leaving a hole at the Sepang team?

As an Independent team funded by title sponsor Petronas, Sepang needs its riders to perform the necessary PR duties. How many such activities would Rossi agree to?

One thing that is clear is the machinery spec.  If Rossi races in 2021 Yamaha has guaranteed 'a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha engineering support'.

At present, Quartararo has a factory-spec M1 at Petronas with team-mate Franco Morbidelli on an A-spec bike. Morbidelli, a member of the VR46 Academy, has a strong chance to remain for 2021 if he can convert his pre-season form into race results.

 

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