“I shouldn’t have taken Valentino Rossi,” gives …

RNF Racing Yamaha (born Petronas SRT Yamaha) boss Razlan Razali has announced that he “shouldn’t have signed” Valentino Rossi for his MotoGP World Championship campaign 2021 because the “young riders are much faster”.

The nine-time world champion Italian switched from the Yamaha Factory squad to the sister satellite setup for his final season in the top division and swapped positions with the eventual 2021 MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo.

While Quartararo’s arrival for 2021 was confirmed in January 2020, Rossi put the formal decision on whether to retire or switch to Petronas SRT on hold for several months before finally signing on the dashed line.

At the time, Razali expressed skepticism about Rossi’s signing, largely because it ran counter to his vision of using Petronas SRT Yamaha as a testing ground for aspiring riders, as was the case with Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli.

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In fact, he goes on to admit that he wished he hadn’t hired Rossi, even if he downplayed talk of being pushed to do so by Yamaha itself.

“If I could turn back the clock, I would have decided to accept the first new contract offer from Petronas in June 2021,” he told Speedweek. “But I wanted to negotiate for more money. And to be honest: I shouldn’t have taken Valentino! “

“There was always the assumption that we had no choice but to sign Valentino in 2021. The assumption was that we were under pressure from Yamaha, but no, there was no pressure.

“Personally, I was skeptical until Valentino was third on the podium alongside Fabio and Viñales at the second Jerez GP in July 2020.

“When I was on the podium next to the three drivers, I thought, ‘Okay, maybe this guy can do it.'”

Despite the publicity gained from hiring Rossi, it was a difficult year-round season with Rossi for Petronas SRT Yamaha, while lead rider Morbidelli initially suffered from the aging bike hampered by the development halt before leaving sustained a knee injury and was then poached from the Yamaha Factory to replace Maverick Vinales.

Looking back on Rossi’s valiant efforts to aim high, Razali believes the Italian pressured himself but didn’t have the fitness to keep up with talented, younger rivals.

“After he was sick [COVID], it turned out that the results were bad. But by then the decision for Valentino had already been made

“I think Valentino put himself under pressure. The young drivers are much faster. Valentino posted better lap times than in the past. But that wasn’t enough. He wanted success, his heart and mind were ready for it – but the body didn’t go along with it. “

Petronas SRT Yamaha will transform into RNF Yamaha for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season, with veteran Andrea Dovizioso supported by Moto3 graduate and rookie Darryn Binder.