Valentino Rossi says reports he has already signed with Petronas SRT for the 2021 MotoGP season are “fake” – but he is “99 percent” sure to stay in the premier class in 2021.
Rossi has lost his place at the factory Yamaha team for 2021, his desire to delay his decision until after a handful of races at the start of the year having forced the Japanese marque into securing Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, amid Ducati’s interest in the pair.
The nine-time grand prix motorcycle world champion is set to sign a deal for 2021 with the satellite SRT squad – receiving full factory support – and is expected to have the option of a second year. Reports in Italian media recently claimed the contract had been signed, but Rossi refuted this at Jerez on Wednesday following the two test sessions ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
“Yeah, the news that I signed the contract already is not true, is fake,” he said. “But we are very close [to signing]. I want to continue in 2021, I speak with Yamaha and especially I speak already with Razlan [Razali, team boss], [Wilco] Zeelenberg and [Johan] Stigifelt at Petronas and I have a very good feeling.
“We have some details to fix, especially the team, the people that will work for me. But it’s 99 percent I will race for Petronas in 2021, although I still haven’t signed.”
Rossi ended up fifth on the combined times at the end of Wednesday’s test day, though slipped back from third in the first outing to 16th in the second as he focused more on race pace. While team-mate Maverick Vinales – who was fastest of all – was happy and confident with his pace, Rossi admitted his current form was “not fantastic” in the scorching temperatures.
“The feel was fantastic to come back on the track and get back on the M1,” said Rossi. “[It] was quite a good day. In the morning I was not so bad, because today it’s like we have just one soft tyre for the time attack.
“So, I put it in this morning and I did a good lap. At the end with the laptime I am P5 overall. In the afternoon we try some different tyres, but with more temperature we are struggling more and especially my pace is not fantastic, I don’t like a lot the balance of the bike.
“We have a lot of work to do, but it was very good to get back on the bike.”