The first six rounds of the 2021 MotoGP world championship season have concluded with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) taking the championship lead with 105 points to his name. The young Frenchman who switched positions with the nine-time world champion, Valentino Rossi, for the factory Yamaha seat is now 24 points ahead of three Ducati riders, Johann Zarco (81 points), Francesco Bagnaia (79 points), and Jack Miller (74 points).
These riders are clearly the crowd favourites to fight for the world championship crown this year, which makes it even harder for riders like Rossi to even get close. Even with his top-spec Yamaha M1, the 42-year-old Italian has been having a lot of issues, particularly related to grip and overall pace. This has led to a poor start to 2021 where Rossi has only managed to collect 15 points so far.
To put things into perspective, there are only 22 main riders on the grid (plus another two who raced in replacement of injured riders) and Rossi is now sitting in P19 of the championship rankings for 2021, which is only 1 point down from Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez. Marquez has been going through a difficult phase upon his return to the grid following a long-term injury obtained last year.
There are many factors as to why this is so, but it's still a hard topic to justify when the other Yamaha riders are doing relatively well. Quartararo is leading the championship, Maverick Vinales is in P6 with 64 points, and Franco Morbidelli sits at P9 with 33 points. So, no major issues relating back to Yamaha or the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad. With these in mind, would it be a good thing if Rossi continued his racing campaign into 2022?
His performance at his home race of Mugello yesterday was deemed acceptable considering that he concluded the race in P10 (Rossi's best result of the 2021 season so far). To be fair, four riders from the top 15 group fell out of contention during the race, which definitely helped the Italian in this particular case. As for his special Mugello 2021 helmet? Seemed like a weird choice. Does that subconciously mean he'll be 'put out to pasture' soon?
Anyway, reports have indicated that the Italian will be making his decision during the summer break in July. This means that there will be three more races before he breaks the news. On another note, his very own MotoGP squad will debut next season, and that makes things even more interesting for him.
There's a strong indicator that the VR46 MotoGP squad will run Ducati machinery following rumours that Yamaha won't be supplying the M1s due to rider choice disagreement. To some, this might lead to a 'conflict of interest' if Rossi chose to continue racing with Yamaha, while his very own MotoGP team competes using the Ducati Desmosedici GP. Silly season, here we come.
Image source: MotoGP