Petronas Yamaha boss Razlan Razali is 'confident' the team will extend its MotoGP relationship with Yamaha beyond the end of the 2021 season.

Currently, only the Red Bull KTM and Gresini teams have officially signed with Dorna to remain on the grid for the next five-year term, starting from 2022.

In Sepang's case, that means the team present deals with both Yamaha and title sponsor Petronas are also up for renewal at the end of this year.

"We want to remain in the MotoGP paddock as long as possible," Razali told GPone.com. "Besides having some options [with] other manufacturers, we are quite comfortable with our relationship with Yamaha and the tremendous amount of support they have given us from year one.

"So I think it's in the interests of Yamaha, the team and Petronas to see if we can develop the relationship for an additional five years. We are talking already, of course it will take a bit of time, but by the middle of the year we should finalise our plans for 2022 and beyond."

If the decision comes down to results the renewals should be a formality, Sepang winning six races last season (more than any other team) divided equally between long-time title leader Fabio Quartararo and eventual world championship runner-up Franco Morbidelli.

But in an interesting twist, one of Sepang's possible rivals for the 2022 satellite Yamahas will be joining the team this season in the form of nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi.

The Italian legend is to start a new satellite chapter in his record-breaking career after swapping places with Quartararo. But his VR46 team will also take its first MotoGP steps in 2021, running younger brother Luca Marini within the Avintia Ducati structure.

That could be a prelude to VR46 getting its own grid place for 2022 and, given Rossi's obvious Yamaha links, Razali was asked if he is worried that the Italian could 'steal' the M1s away?

"Not at all, because we are confident," Razali said. "I think that we have proven to everybody, and to ourselves, what we can do in a short period of time.

"I think we have a great team of people with the likes of Johan Stigefelt and Wilco Zeelenberg. So we are confident that we can continue and still work with Yamaha.

"I'm not overly worried about if Valentino eventually wants to create his own team, because at the end of the day to create a MotoGP team is a lot more than just a Moto2 and Moto3 team. Bigger [operation], higher costs, the ability to raise sponsorship… it's not as easy as 'just create one'.

"We’ve been there and we can be confident that we can do a good job, we have, and I'm not worried about if Valentino comes and steals the Yamahas and so on."

But given the team's almost instant MotoGP success and support from a high-profile title sponsor, the opposite argument could also be made; should Yamaha be worried that another manufacturer will steal the Sepang team away?

"We have to also look at what our title sponsor wants. When I was given the task to look into this MotoGP project we were given a very strict checklist from Petronas. One of the items on the checklist is for Petronas to be able to develop products with a manufacturer for commercialisation," Razali said.

"What we have seen is that Petronas have already developed the lubricants, gearbox oil and engine oil, with Yamaha. The next step is to develop the fuel. That is very important. Any manufacturer that wants to work with us, as a race team, must also work with Petronas on commercialisation and product development technology."

It was the ability to develop commercial products which Crash.net understands was a key factor in Petronas choosing Yamaha machinery over a rival offer from Suzuki for its 2019 MotoGP debut.

And given the Petronas-Yamaha products and commercialisation so far established, it seems unlikely the petroleum company would seek to make a fresh start with another manufacturer for 2022.

Another decision to be made for '22 will be the future of Rossi, given he presently has only a one-year contract, directly with Yamaha.

"One of the reasons we limited [Rossi's contract] to one year is because our contract with Dorna is one year, with Yamaha it's one year and Petronas it ends this year. So we couldn't do beyond that," Razlan Razali confirmed.

"However, [in Rossi's] contract with Yamaha there is a target for him to achieve at a certain time. So we have to see how competitive he is."

Razali expects the team's revised line-up of Rossi and VR46 protegee Morbidelli to produce "a great atmosphere" this season while confirming attempts were made to promote Morbidelli to the same Factory-spec bikes used by Maverick Vinales, Quartararo and Rossi.

"We tried," Razali said. "When Franky won his first race in Misano he came to see me and said 'Razlan, it's wrong if I don’t ask you, can we push for a factory bike for next year?' I said, 'look, I'll do my best'.

"I started the dialogue with Yamaha and it was not very promising for obvious reasons including budget, parts and so on. Then when he won [for the third time] in Valencia, I asked him again, 'do you want a factory bike next year?' and he said, 'no, no, I'm happy with my bike!'

"Sometimes it's more the psychological thing, because it's 'factory'… But we were given assurance that there will be some improvements and development on Franky's bike, in addition to the Factory bikes. So Franky will see some kind of new improvements as well."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...