All four Yamaha riders have featured on the MotoGP podium this season, with three of them winning races.

But with six rounds to go, a split in their championship fortunes is threatening to form.

Petronas rider Fabio Quartararo and the factory team's Maverick Vinales (-18 points) remain firm title contenders in first and third, but their respective team-mates Franco Morbidelli (-31) and Valentino Rossi (-50) are now in danger of losing touch in fifth and eleventh.

Should the current situation continue into the closing rounds, it's not hard to imagine Petronas asking Morbidelli to assist Quartararo's quest for a historic satellite title.

But despite doubting his own world championship chances on the A-Spec bike after Catalunya, Morbidelli made clear he would take some persuading.

"I am not thinking about that," Morbidelli said at Le Mans on Thursday.

"First I’m still in play [for the title]. Second, the team didn’t ask anything. Third I think it goes against the nature of our sport.

"Because of these three reasons, I didn’t make any thought on this."

Rossi - who caused a stir when he battled hard with team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at Motegi in 2010, despite the Spaniard being yet to secure the world title - said only: "About team orders, the problem is that Quartararo is not in my team! We will see!"

Yamaha isn't the only factory facing the possibility of team orders, the same will apply for any brand still in the title chase by the closing stages.

But no other manufacturer currently has such evenly matched riders, competing with each other at the front of the field, including the perfect M1 top-four seen in qualifying at Misano and the Yamaha 1-2-3 for much of the recent Catalunya race.

'As long as I have a bike that I can ride'

Whatever the title outcome this season, Rossi and Morbidelli will be team-mates at Petronas next year, with Quartararo joining Vinales at the factory team.

But while Morbidelli has a new two-year contract with the Sepang squad, Rossi only received a one-year contract extension from Yamaha, which will place him at their satellite team.

Yamaha's Lin Jarvis explained they couldn't offer Rossi more than one season at this stage, since the factory's current agreement with Petronas expires at the end of 2021.

But if that's the case, what does the second year of Morbidelli's future contract contain? Is it only to ride for the Sepang team, thus leaving the door open to a possible change of machinery?

"I really don’t know. I don’t care too much about contracts and deals," Morbidelli replied. "As long as I have a bike that I can ride, and a team I can work with. I really don’t know.

"It was the first time I hear something like this [Jarvis explaining 2022 Petronas-Yamaha situation in Barcelona]. Usually, I just ask for the technical situation of next year and that’s it."

It is thought that, although announced as a two-year deal, Morbidelli's agreement is closer to a 1+1, meaning there are options and clauses in place for the second year, which would almost certainly include the choice of machinery.

Given the Sepang team's success since joining MotoGP in 2019, continuing the Yamaha partnership beyond 2021 makes sense for both parties.

Nonetheless, there are rumours of interest in Petronas from Suzuki (although the factory now seems close to Gresini), plus the possibility of VR46 arriving in MotoGP in 2022. If that happens, would Yamaha really allow Rossi's team to be associated with another brand?

"What can I say? I don’t trust too much the rumours," Morbidelli said of the Petronas Suzuki gossip.

But you trust in the team?

"Exactly," he added.

A possible solution for Yamaha to keep Petronas and also bring VR46 on-board, without supplying more than four MotoGP bikes, would be for one of them to become the official Yamaha team.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...