Petronas SRT boss Razlan Razali says Valentino Rossi’s podium in the MotoGP Andalusian Grand Prix removed “doubts” he had over the Italian for 2021 after his poor Spanish GP weekend.
Nine-time grand prix world champion Rossi will join the satellite Yamaha squad with full factory support in 2021, though the deal is yet to be officially confirmed.
Rossi returned to the MotoGP podium for the first time since Austin 2019 with a third at the second Jerez race last week, though it followed a dismal Spanish GP weekend in which he was 14 seconds off eventual winner Fabio Quartararo in 10th when his bike broke down.
The Italian himself admitted he was “worried” about his decision to continue in MotoGP next year after the Spanish GP.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, Razali says he also had his doubts.
“Vale is Vale,” the former Sepang circuit CEO said.
“To be honest, I had my doubts after the first race. I kept telling myself that ‘the Doctor’ would come back and he did.
“He impressed me a lot, even considering the extreme conditions in which we raced.”
Razali also says Rossi’s performance in the Andalusian GP “made it easier” to explain to SRT’s shareholders why it has chosen the Italian for 2021.
“It makes everything easier,” Razali said of Rossi’s podium.
“We are Petronas [SRT] and we make choices based on business, but we cannot ignore the fans who perhaps would like a local rider.
“It is not a forced choice, but he is not a normal rider.
“It took time to be sure, but what he on Sunday made it easier to explain to shareholders why we chose Valentino.”
The delay over Rossi’s deal being made official is thought to revolve around the make-up of the Italian’s crew, though Razali says it more relates to defining the “structure” between Yamaha, VR46 and Sepang.
Razali insists he doesn’t want SRT to become “famous” simply for having 41-year-old Rossi in its ranks, and hopes to continue the “philosophy” it built up from 2019 with current MotoGP points leader Quartararo.
“We don’t want our team to be famous for Valentino,” Razali stated.
“We want anyone who runs with us to make results. From a certain point of view, it gives me more joy to have created something from nothing and to be where we are today with Fabio.
“We want to continue that philosophy, and with Valentino we want to be sure we can help him.
“We don’t want to be popular because he is there, but to help make him competitive even at his age.
“After talking to him and his staff, we are understanding of what he needs.”