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Analysis

The obstacles Yamaha has to overcome to have a satellite MotoGP team in 2025

After securing Fabio Quartararo's future with Yamaha, Lin Jarvis is on a mission to bring the Japanese company back its satellite team next year, a goal that is considerably complicated by VR46's almost certain continuation with Ducati.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

After 26 seasons at the helm of Yamaha, Britain's Lin Jarvis revealed last weekend in an interview with Autosport that 2024 will be his final year as the brand's most senior executive. Before closing this chapter, Jarvis managed to extend 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo's contract until the end of 2026.

Having secured the Frenchman, the manager's efforts are now focused on regaining the satellite team that Yamaha gave up at the end of 2022, after not renewing with RNF, who signed with Aprilia instead.

FEATURE: How Vinales finally banished his Yamaha demons

At a time when the analysis of bike data has become a key element in their development, having just two M1s on the grid is an obvious handicap that Jarvis is trying to rectify. However, in order to realise that desire he has to convince one of the independent teams - a considerable hurdle considering that the only options available would be to move away from the Ducati they race on to a Yamaha that hasn't won any races in over a year and so far in 2024 has come nowhere near a podium.

Until a few months ago, most of the signs suggested that VR46 was the right structure for the alliance that the Iwata factory was looking for, especially because of the link between Valentino Rossi and the Japanese manufacturer. Four times a world champion with Yamaha between 2004 and 2009, Rossi was made a brand ambassador for the Japanese manufacturer last year.

However, the reality is that the Tavullia-based team is one step away from extending its commitment to Ducati for the next two years, with an option to go even further. The latter is not a trivial detail, given that it is now when the pieces are being placed on the board on which the game will begin in 2027, when the new technical regulations come into play, marked by the reduction in engine displacement to 850cc and the limitation of aerodynamics.

"I'm still optimistic that we can have a satellite team again in 2025 because that's what we want," said Jarvis in a chat with Autosport in Austin. "As far as I know, VR46 and Ducati haven't formalised anything yet. Achieving our goal would be the best news for the championship and for Yamaha."

Despite the Yamaha boss's hopes, the offer VR46 received from Borgo Panigale meets almost all the ambitions of Rossi's 'tribe'. This is how Alessio Salucci, his manager and Rossi's right-hand man, acknowledged it so forcefully to Autosport.

Valentino Rossi looks unlikely to reunite with Yamaha for a third time in his illustrious MotoGP career

Valentino Rossi looks unlikely to reunite with Yamaha for a third time in his illustrious MotoGP career

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

"Yamaha is my second home. But, from the start, what they should offer us is a more competitive bike. The Ducati is a great bike and its performance is very high. We owe it to our partners. The change is not easy," said Salucci.

The only 'but' in Salucci's eyes is that the Bologna-based company does not give him the possibility of having a factory Desmosedici for the next two seasons, given that Pramac has that status exclusively, at least for the time being.

With VR46 all but out of the equation, Yamaha's focus now turns to trying to recruit Paolo Campinoti's team, and to do so it will play the emotional card. Autosport understands that Pramac has until after the summer break to execute an option that gives it the right to unilaterally renew with Ducati until 2026.

If it signs, it would retain the privilege of being the only team with factory support from the Italian marque for another two seasons. After 2027, it would lose that exclusivity, and with it, one of the two official bikes it currently fields for 2023 runner-up Jorge Martin and Franco Morbidelli.

While it is true that Gresini has extended its Ducati agreement until the end of 2025, it is also true that there is a release clause, subject to paying a fee

As painful as such a demotion might be, it is hard to imagine Pramac considering giving up its current status. The one that allows it to win races and fight for the title, and that guarantees it a visibility that would be lost if it decides to join Yamaha. Should Pramac opt for the latter, VR46 would most likely inherit that coveted spot until 2026, going from having no factory Ducatis to having two. The relationship between Pramac and VR46 has been strained in recent times, and that has Ducati open to any possibility.

"Honestly, we have no idea what Pramac might decide," said an authoritative voice from the Ducati offices at the Circuit of the Americas last weekend. Switching from red bikes to blue is not an easy move from an operational point of view, especially given the amount of resources Ducati spends on nurturing Pramac, which does not have a large infrastructure.

In the event that Campinoti chooses to take advantage of the sweet moment his team is going through, Yamaha would have to look elsewhere, and that would probably lead it to try to persuade Gresini.

Pramac is a target for Yamaha, but sticking with Ducati guarantees it success

Pramac is a target for Yamaha, but sticking with Ducati guarantees it success

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

At the same time, the Faenza team is trying to convince Ducati to supply it with an official Desmosedici in 2025, with the intention of using it as a lure for Marc Marquez to stay. That is a possibility that seems unlikely at this stage, in which there are many who aspire to such favourable treatment from the constructor that dominates the series, which, in turn, seeks to reduce its investment in the championship as much as possible.

While it is true that Gresini has extended its agreement until the end of 2025, it is also true that a release clause exists in most contracts, subject to paying a fee. At this point, it remains to be seen whether Yamaha would be willing to pay the price in order to put four M1s back on the grid.

The difference in potential that can be seen these days on the track between the Ducati and the Yamaha perfectly explains the overbooking of requests that the former has, and the scarcity of them that the latter suffers.

Yamaha's lack of form has left it with a lack of interested parties in its M1s

Yamaha's lack of form has left it with a lack of interested parties in its M1s

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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