While contract speculation rages on for most of the Motogp grid in a season that sees nearly everyone’s agreements come up for renegotiation, Rossi is debating a more fundamental decision; whether or not to remain in the sport altogether.
With ever increasing links both personally and professionally to Yamaha (further cemented by recent deals for them to supply bikes to his Academy programme and for his VR46 company to take over Yamaha’s merchandising) it looks highly unlikely that Rossi will leave.
Instead, the nine-time world champion – the most crucial piece in the puzzle that is the grid – has still to decide on whether he feels he can remain competitive enough to justify staying in the sport.
And he’s made it clear on a number of occasions that there’s only two options available to him – remain on a factory bike, almost certainly the M1 – or leave the sport completely, most likely to pursue his other goal of racing on four wheels.
Saying that he’ll judge whether to stay based on his performances in the early part of the season, it could well be that his impressive pre-season testing form might have helped to tip his hand; if he can translate his testing pace into a similar on-track performance come race day, then there’s no reason why we won’t be seeing more of the familiar 46 in 2017 (and indeed, 2018 as well).