In February 2003 he visited Rossi in Ibiza, opening the negotiations that would lead to MotoGP’s greatest story.
“I remember when we first discussed the idea of signing Valentino, lots of people in Yamaha were not confident that it was possible,” said Brivio. “It was a dream, a crazy idea! However, I have to give credit to them because they let me try and then on the way people started to realise it was possible and got behind it. I have to say my good friend Masao Furusawa was a very important part of this process because he convinced the Yamaha president to spend the money! He did a great job within the factory whilst I worked on Valentino and his management team.”
The transformation was historic. Yamaha’s below-par YZR-M1 didn’t win a single race during 2003, but with Rossi on board it won first time out in 2004 and went on to win that year’s title. Rossi retained the championship in 2005 and won two more with Yamaha in 2008 and 2009.
When Rossi left Yamaha at the end of 2010 Brivio went with him, working with his fellow Italian in a more personal capacity, then joined Suzuki in 2014, preparing the factory for its return to the MotoGP grid in 2015.
Brivio’s decision to quit Suzuki took management completely by surprise, according to Shinichi Sahara, leader of the GSX-RR project.
“Sincerely, it was shocking news for us about Davide’s departure,” said Sahara. “It feels like somebody took a part of me, because I always discussed with him how to develop the team and the bikes, and we’ve worked together for a long time. Now we are trying to find the best way to recover from the loss of Davide. Luckily in most cases I have had quite a similar way of thinking to him, therefore it is not so difficult to keep the direction we should go.”
Why did Brivio decide to leave Suzuki? No one knows for sure right now, but it seems like he hadn’t been planning the move for long.
“A new professional challenge and opportunity suddenly came to me and in the end I decided to take it,” he said. “It’s been a difficult decision. The hardest part will be to leave this fabulous group of people, with whom I started this project when Suzuki re-joined the Championship. I feel sad from this point of view, but at the same time I feel a lot of motivation for this new challenge – which was the key when I had to decide between renewing my contract with Suzuki or starting a completely new experience.”
Suzuki will certainly struggle to find a new team manager that knows how get as much out of a team as Brivio does. Its GSX-RR will most likely continue to be a front-runner in the short term, but will the factory be able to maintain its impressive results in the long term?
Brivio will certainly need all his man-management skills in F1, where the Alpine/Renault team will be at least three times bigger than Suzuki’s MotoGP squad. His drivers for the 2021 season will be twice F1 world champion Fernando Alonso and Frenchman Esteban Ocon.