Valentino Rossi has won four MotoGP World Championships and 47 races for Yamaha, earning him legendary status among the factory team.
So Yamaha brass stayed largely quiet in 2013 even though Rossi struggled during his return to the Crossed Tuning Forks, winning just once, finishing a distant fourth in the standings and offering little threat to teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi recently said he wants to continue with Yamaha past the expiration of his current deal in 2014 if his form improves over the first six races of next season. And Rossi's boss, Yamaha Factory Racing chief Lin Jarvis, agrees Rossi needs to pick up the pace if Yamaha is going to offer him a new contract.
"Next year he knows he has to improve his performance to be consistent with the top three guys," Jarvis said. "His motivation is big. He knows it is a very important year to determine his future. He'll have our full support, and I think he'll be really aggressive next year, trying to be on the podium in every moment."
Ducati never publicly criticized Rossi or called for better performance from him during his ill-fated two-year tenure on Borgo Panigale from 2011-12. And Rossi was still VALENTINO DAMN ROSSI back in 2010, just one year removed from winning a world title.
So while it was uncharacteristic to hear Jarvis offer a mild ultimatum to Rossi, it's further proof that the birth certificate doesn't lie: Rossi turns 35 in February and finally may have met a foe he can't beat.