Is This About The Money?
by staff
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Rossi wants a two year deal with Yamaha. And, probably, a raise.
image thanks, Gigi

It's June 10th and insofar as anyone outside of the factory Yamaha inner circle are aware, Valentino Rossi has not signed a new contract with Yamaha.

The timeline of the situation is something like this:

  • 2003: Rossi MotoGP championship for Repsol Honda, signs with Yamaha for 2004.

  • 2004-2010: Rossi wins four MotoGP titles on the factory Yamaha. After six seasons he parts with Yamaha to sign with Ducati.

  • 2011-2012: Rossi rides Marlboro Ducati in two seasons of unmitigated disaster. In late 2012 he signs a deal whereby he returns to Yamaha in 2013.

  • 2013: Rossi returns to Yamaha, wins Assen GP. At the final race of the '13 season Rossi splits with longtime crewchief Jeremy Burgess.

  • 2014: After saying he would decide whether he might continue to race or not after seeing the results of the first GPs, Rossi calms all fears from his fan base and sanctioning body Dorna by stating that he will continue to race and that he'd like to stay with Yamaha.

    Rossi, at this time, is not under contract for 2015 or beyond.

    35-year old Rossi has enjoyed a complete resurgence in 2014. He has finished on the podium four times and is currently second in MotoGP points. It's immaterial, but bears mentioning that if there were no Marc Marquez in '14, all other factors remaining static, Rossi would have won an additional two GPs. At least.

    Rossi is keen to sign a new deal. Why hasn't one been announced?

    It's probably about the money.

    It's a convoluted situation, assuredly, with many factors to consider. For Rossi, he wants to be on the best machinery available and with the best crew. Does he have options to go elsewhere? Rossi always has options but migrating yet again to another manufacturer is a very big gamble for a rider in his mid-30s. Rossi already gambled big twice in his career and the second time--signing with Ducati--cost him immeasurably. While he was paid handsomely, the move to Ducati removed any real chance of Rossi's further assault on the MotoGP record books.

    Rossi has said that he wants a new two year deal with Yamaha.

    If one accepts that Rossi at this stage in his career receives between three and five million euros a year in salary, one might also assume that Rossi, for the last two years, has been paid probably on the lower end of that scale. Thus, with his current return to regular trips to the podium status, the Italian probably wants closer to five million a year from Yamaha for the next contract.

    Rossi remains one of the highest paid riders in MotoGP, and in motorsports. In 2012 Forbes estimated his income at over twenty million dollars. However, the last twenty-four months have seen Rossi push his VR46 brand and sales. Doing so certainly helps Rossi's bottom line.

    For Yamaha there are a multitude of factors to consider. Yamaha already has a rider on the team that they are paying a fortune. Lorenzo is near the top of the MotoGP pay scale, which even with his hiccups this season, there's little doubt he is worth every penny. But Yamaha has already taken an additional hit on the Lorenzo financial front when they had to presumably extract Lorenzo from his Rockstar contract when the team signed with Monster.

    Yamaha has used the new association with Rossi to their advantage, signing several new sponsors including Movistar. Would these sponsorships have happened without Rossi under the blue banner of Yamaha? While somewhat debatable it's undeniable that for a sponsor, signing a deal with a team is much easier when the most popular motorcycle racer in the world will be wearing your brand.

    Can Yamaha replace Rossi? Everyone is replaceable but since Cal Crutchlow left Yamaha for Ducati there isn't a real heir apparent in the Yamaha chain right now. Pol Espargaro? Certainly not ready for a shot at the factory team. Bradley Smith? Potentially, but that would be a huge gamble for Yamaha. Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Bradl and others are available at this time as well, but while Pedrosa could probably slip into that team and be competitive quickly, he's no Rossi.

    Rossi probably wants a two year deal paying him about five million euro a year.

    All in all he's probably worth it, and he's probably going to get it--from Yamaha.


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