Valentino Rossi is finally on the verge of putting pen to paper on a 2021 Petronas Yamaha MotoGP contract.

The Italian had described his switch to the satellite team as '99%' certain when the revised world championship season got underway back in July.

But the lengthy delay in making an official announcement even prompted some false rumours of a decision to retire.

On Thursday in Catalunya, Rossi again made assurances that he will race for the Sepang team next season, adding that everything was agreed during the Misano rounds and that he expects to sign a (one-year) contract this weekend.

"Between the Misano races we fixed everything. Also in the last days. The situation is very clear; I will race with Petronas next year," Rossi said.

"But the contract is a little bit long, some things to fix and we are not in a hurry, sincerely, because we are already agreed.

"But I think that during this weekend I will sign the contract and I'm very happy to continue next year, together with Yamaha and Petronas."

Rossi will thus swap places with Fabio Quartararo, who is taking over his Factory Yamaha ride, and become team-mate to VR46 Academy star Franco Morbidelli next season.

The nine-time world champion also confirmed that among the issues to be resolved has been the specification of the bike - Yamaha had already pledged a 'factory spec YZR-M1' but that still leaves issues such as the supply of updated parts relative to the factory team - and which crew members will join Rossi in the next chapter of his career.

"For me, sometimes in MotoGP people sign the contract for the next year too early. A lot of time you already start to think of the next season before thinking about the current season," Rossi said of the delay.

"I think that day-by-day, step-by-step everybody signs earlier, for example a lot earlier than Formula One.

"We already speak from Jerez [July] and I was agreed with Yamaha and also Petronas. But because we are okay, we don’t make in a hurry.

"It's an important contract so you have some things to fix, technical, the bike, and also the team. Because I think some guys will move from Petronas to factory with Quartararo and the opposite."

Rossi is tipped to take three team members with him, including new crew chief David Munoz, but not long-serving mechanics Alex Briggs and Brent Stephens.

"I'm very sorry for Alex and Brent, they wanted to follow me but it wasn't possible," Rossi said. "It will be sad not to have them in the garage."

Rossi, 41, starts the second half of the MotoGP season having dropped to ninth in the world championship due to his Misano race fall, but remains only 26 points from title leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

 

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