Rossi to Petronas: could it be a promotion?
In theory Valentino Rossi’s 2021 demotion from Yamaha’s factory team to its indie team is a demotion, but it may not turn out like that
Valentino Rossi has told BBC Sport that MotoGP racing is boring and that he finds it hard to stay awake. I bet the BBC loved hearing that – they broadcast the races here in Britain.
Can this be true? If Rossi feels bored on a MotoGP Ducati, then how does he expect the rest of us to stay awake? But he has a point. His absence at the head of the pack has certainly taken the sting out of the series, as has the enforced absence of Casey Stoner after his injuries. It is true that the racing is not as thrilling as it used to be.
Us motor racing fans well remember the days of Schumacher at Ferrari. There was little point in switching on, or flying all the way to the circuit, we knew who was going to win. Many people switched off altogether, saying that Formula 1 was boring, the same man kept winning, and his team-mate was under orders not to overtake him. What, they cried, is that all about? What indeed. Personally, I did not find it boring, or soporific, because I simply love being at the Grand Prix or watching it all on the TV. I am a fan, always have been, always will be.
Yes, it became predictable, and that was disappointing, especially as no other team and driver combination appeared capable of stopping the dominant Ferrari/Schumacher/Brawn/Todt/Byrne team in its tracks. It wasn’t up to Ferrari to lose; it was up to the rest to win. But even those on the inside, who are paid generously to be there, started mumbling about boredom. In my view, they had missed the point, and as soon as Damon Hill and Mika Häkkinen took the fight to the red cars everyone suddenly changed their tune.
The point is what then? Well, Grand Prix racing is always so intriguing, so full of smoke and mirrors, and constantly evolving from race to race. Just because one man is winning all the time does not mean that the others have gone to sleep, it means they are struggling to understand why one man and one car are so far ahead. Rumours abounded of course; there were protests and accusations, and plenty of wicked conjecture as to what Schumacher might be up to.
Those of us who are not asleep love the whole picture, we remember the history, we remember times when the sport was dominated by one man or one team. We are awake because we are waiting to see who will respond fastest, how they do it and what it is they have discovered.
Rossi has done one good thing by making his statement as outlined above. He has drawn attention to a problem that needs dealing with. Stoner is retiring, there are not enough MotoGP bikes to fill the grid and yes, the racing itself has suffered. The Italian hero changes teams for 2013, joining Jorge Lorenzo. I bet he will be fully awake by then.
Excitement, in any sport, is not guaranteed. So make the very best of what we have in car racing right now, it’s a great era. None of us know precisely what’s in store in 2014 and nor, it seems, do the participants.
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