Should I Stay or Should I Go? This is the question that Valentino Rossi is pondering right as you read this. The 9 times World Champion’s experience at Ducati has been an unmitigated disaster with not a single victory after almost 2 years of trying. Time to give up or time to double down?
Now that researchers have confirmed the existence of the God particle (Higgs Boson) at the CERN Large Hadron Collider facility perhaps they could turn their attention to the travails of the God like MotoGP star that is Valentino Rossi.
Rossi has effectively two choices left after ruling out a Honda ride in a satellite team on essentially factory equipment. Should he stick with Ducati and hope that Audi’s influence and money accelerate Ducati’s MotoGP development program to finally give him the changes he has asked for or return to factory Yamaha with a proven package but as a clear number 2 rider to Jorge Lorenzo.
It isn’t an easy decision to make and made all the more difficult by the pressure of time. It is widely expected that Rossi must make his decision by or around the time of the Indianapolis MotoGP. In doing so he must choose, without being certain, as to what influence Audi will really have on Ducati. His crash last time out at Laguna Seca won’t have exactly enamoured him to the Bologna brand at this critical juncture.
As usual the MotoGP circus is in pause mode whilst Vale makes up his mind. It is widely expected that Andrea Dovizioso will take the second factory Yamaha spot if Rossi doesn’t get there first. For Rossi it would be a large dose of humble pie if he made a prodigal return to the manufacturer that saw him win the MotoGP championship 4 times, including on debut after leaving Honda.
“It is a big risk also because I can’t wait to make the decision. If not (Andrea) Dovizioso becomes very angry (laughs). But at the same time the problem is to wait for Audi and Ducati. It is very early to understand who will come to help Ducati, so I have to make a bet without seeing the situation very clear.”
If he chose Yamaha, he would give up on being the first rider to win the premier class title on three different brands whilst publicly acknowledging that he couldn’t lick into shape the bike that took retiring Casey Stoner to championship glory in 2007 albeit in different circumstances and with a less controversial trellis frame.
At Yamaha, Rossi would be no longer the number one rider, Yamaha having chosen Lorenzo as their future star in 2010 and his championship that year and his performances so far in this one have justified their decision. Deeply unhappy in 2010 about Lorenzo as a team-mate, Valentino always a revisionist now says things are different and his old anger was at the factory and not the Spanish rider.
“My feeling has changed a lot because the situation has changed. I had some problems in the past with Jorge, especially because I was angry with Yamaha. After all I did for Yamaha they put in the team a very strong team-mate so I was p****d off with Yamaha more than him. Now it is a different situation and I understand that Yamaha made the right choice for Yamaha. This is not a big problem.”
Ducati is desperate to keep the Italian and undoubtedly have offered him far more money than Yamaha will need to. Rumors that he was to make €17 million a year, a figure probably 5 times any Yamaha fee were swiftly denied.
“This is important to say, this is completely not true. My offer for next year is less money than the offer for the past two years. I think this is right, because the economic situation of the world is difficult, and I arrive from a bad season with worse results. So it’s normal that I take less money than this year.”
So what to do? Undoubtedly Rossi’s decision now is far more important than the one he made in 2010. Despite a dismal series of results, Rossi has shown flashes of his old self most recently when he overtook Casey Stoner in the wet to stand on the podium in second place at Le Mans.
Reportedly most paddock commentators have convinced themselves that he will return to Yamaha. However Rossi has always had a flair for the dramatic and the balls to go his own way. It would take a brave and trusting man to stay, but our money is still on an Italian rider on an Italian bike in 2013.