The father of Valentino Rossi has defended his son as the Yamaha veteran toils through a dismal 2019 campaign.
Rossi, who turned 40 in February, has managed two podiums so far this season, but his 2019 charge was brought to a screaming halt following consecutive accidents at Mugello, Barcelona and Assen.
While just five points behind factory teammate Maverick Vinales in the standings, Rossi’s dreams of a tenth world title have already been quashed as Marc Marquez sprints towards a sixth premier class crown.
Live stream the 2019 MotoGP World Championship on KAYO SPORTS. Every practice, qualifying & race live & anytime in HD. Get your 14 day free trial >
‘THEY’LL KICK UP A FUSS’: RICCIARDO SAYS RIDERS WON’T LIKE RESURFACED SILVERSTONE
UNSTOPPABLE: MARQUEZ EXTENDS DECADE-LONG DOMINANCE IN GERMANY
After nine races in 2019, Rossi has only scored 80 points. His previous worst campaign to date was in his second year with Ducati (2012) when he managed just 82 points.
However, it’s worse now than it was then. In 2012, he was 103 points behind leader Jorge Lorenzo. This year, he’s 105 points down on Marquez.
There are still 10 races left in 2019, and the rumblings won’t go away. However, father Graziano came to the rider’s aid.
“He’s in great physical shape… maybe you’re worried, yes, because there’s certainly been problems in recent times.
“But he’s not unmotivated. He never is. Usually when he’s a little depressed for some reason he’s not slow, but exactly the opposite.”
Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis admitted the popular Italian is “no longer the future” for the team.
However, Jarvis didn’t rule out Rossi extending his current contract, which runs through to the end of 2020.
“Up until 2010, Valentino had brought us four titles – ‘04, ‘05, ‘08 and ‘09 – so when he left us [to move to Ducati], it had a big impact. It would be like Marquez leaving Honda right now,” Jarvis told Motorsport.com.
“Now he is at a different stage of his life, a different stage of his career, and with all due respect he is no longer the future of our participation in MotoGP.
“He could still be here for another year, two years or three years – we will have to see how long he stays competitive. But it is a different relationship now, a different sort of dependence on him.
“That’s not to say he is not important – he is important. His role and function will be different but I hope he stays as a brand ambassador and partner as he gets older.”
Rossi finished 2018 in third, yet did so without winning a race. His last win came in the Dutch TT in June 2017, some 36 races ago. He has copped worse, suffering through a 44-race winless streak between 2010 and 2013. However, being outperformed by two youngsters will make today’s struggles hurt more.
Not only has Rossi been shadowed by Vinales, but also by satellite Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo.
After finishing the last-start German Grand Prix in eighth from 11th on the grid, Rossi refused to take his age into account when quizzed on his slump.
“It’s true that I’m old for sure, but the problem is last year I was already old,” he said after the race.
“Also five years ago I was already old. But sincerely I don’t feel in my mind that I’ve given up, or that I’m not concentrated, or that I don’t have enough motivation to arrive at race weekends.”