Why Rossi thinks Yamaha would be "crazy" not to sign Quartararo

Valentino Rossi says his MotoGP employer Yamaha will pull out all the stops to keep Fabio Quartararo beyond 2021 if it's not "crazy"

Why Rossi thinks Yamaha would be "crazy" not to sign Quartararo

Moto2 graduate Quartararo has been the breakout star of the current premier-class campaign for Yamaha's new Petronas-backed satellite team, scoring five podiums and four pole positions.

Speaking after the Thailand Grand Prix, in which Quartararo was narrowly denied a maiden MotoGP win by champion Marc Marquez, Rossi acknowledged it was "very important" for Yamaha to retain Quartararo for the longer term.

Logic dictates that this would require a promotion to the factory team in 2021, which would have to come at the expense of either Rossi or his teammate Maverick Vinales.

"I expected that he can be very fast, because he was always very fast from when he was young, but nobody expected like this.

"So he did something special, and I think that next year everybody want to try to take Quartararo on their bike.

"And '21 for sure Yamaha will want Quartararo, if it's not crazy."

"He is very fast, he is strong, he doesn't make mistakes.

"He rides very well the Yamaha because he is very smooth, and I think he is very strong in braking because he is able to stop the bike very well."

Three riders whose rookie years marked the start of golden careers

In the midst of one of the most impressive (and surprising) debut MotoGP campaigns ever, Quartararo could well follow these three other grand prix greats whose debut years heralded the start of glittering careers.

Marc Marquez - 2013 (Six wins and the world title)

Marquez generated massive amounts of hype in his formative years in grand prix racing, winning the 125cc title in 2010 and the Moto2 crown two years later before stepping up to MotoGP with Honda in place of Casey Stoner for 2013.

Taking to the podium in third in his first outing in Qatar, Marquez became the youngest ever MotoGP race winner when he eased to victory in Texas.

He would win five more races, and lock horns with Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo for the title, prevailing in a tense final in Valencia to become the youngest premier class world champion and the first rookie to win the title since Kenny Roberts Sr in 1978.

Since then, Marquez has gone onto rewrite the history books, winning 53 races in total and five more titles - the most recent of which coming last weekend in Thailand.

Valentino Rossi - 2000 (Two wins and runner-up spot in the standings)

MotoGP's most successful rider of the current century, Rossi's debut on the Honda in 2000 yielded one victory and runner-up spot in the standings - confirming the Italian's position as a future great.

Rossi won 11 races in '01 to secure his first premier class title by well over 100 points, and continued his dominance on the Honda in '02 and '03 at the dawn of the four-stroke era, before making a bold switch to Yamaha for '04.

With the bike failing to win the previous season, Rossi returned the M1 to the top step of the podium on his first race in South Africa and would ease to his fourth MotoGP titles, adding a fifth the following year.

Titles six and seven came in '08 and '09, with the latter remaining his latest championship triumph - though he came close in the hugely controversial '15 fight.

Rossi has been unable to add to his haul 89 premier class race wins since Assen 2017, but he remains a constant podium threat.

Kenny Roberts - 1978 (Four wins and the title)

Roberts cut his teeth on dirt tracks in America as a teenager, before adding road racing to his schedule, proving successful.

Coming to grand prix racing in '78 with Yamaha, Roberts competed in a handful of 250cc races as well as that year's 500cc season and stunned.

Taking four wins and four other podiums, Roberts became America's first premier class world champion, while also revolutionising the way the 500s could be ridden.

He won the 500cc crown the following two seasons, before hanging up leathers at the end of '83 to focus on running his own grand prix team, becoming Yamaha's official team in 1990 with the backing of tobacco giant Marlboro.

Fellow American Wayne Rainey would take the Roberts-run YZR500s to titles in '90, '91 and '92, and was on course for a fourth in '93 when his career was tragically cut short by a crash at Misano which left him paralysed.

Three riders who stumbled following their stellar rookie years

Quartararo has certainly demonstrated talent enough to carry him to a world title but, as these three examples prove, success is never guaranteed no matter how good you are.

Ben Spies - 2010 (Two podiums in first season)

Ben Spies's sole season in World Superbikes in 2009 exceeded all expectations, despite his healthy CV in the AMA (Now MotoAmercia) series in America beforehand.

Winning the title with Yamaha in his debut season, Spies secured a move to MotoGP at Tech3 in place of fellow WSBK title-winner James Toseland for 2010 and impressed by scoring his first podium after just five races at Silverstone. He backed that up with a second-place at Indianapolis, and was promoted to the works Yamaha team for 2011 in place of Ducati-bound Valentino Rossi.

Though winning his first race at Assen, he struggled to match team-mate Jorge Lorenzo's form throughout the year and only matched his tally of 176 points from his debut season.

A spate of crashes and misfortune blighted his '12 campaign, with a switch to Pramac Ducati for '13 failing to revive his fortunes.

A shoulder injury ruled him out for most of the first half of the year, before suffering a career-ending crash on his return to action at Indianapolis.

Johann Zarco - 2017 (Three podiums in his first year)

Like Quartararo, Zarco's almost-immediate emergence as a MotoGP frontrunner came as a surprise, but after he'd led the opening six laps of his first race in Qatar with Tech3 few were left in doubt of his abilities.

Scoring his debut podium just five races into the year in France, Zarco became a constant rostrum threat and added two more to his haul by seasons end.

This had done enough to gain him interest from Honda and KTM for works 2019 deals, with the latter securing his signature.

This ultimately proved disastrous, with Zarco quitting the team midway through the year and eventually being dropped with immediate effect after just 13 races of strife aboard the RC16.

Now likely to join Yamaha as a test rider, Zarco's hopes of returning to the MotoGP grid anytime soon appear remote.

Randy Mamola - 1980 (Two wins and runner-up spot in the standings)

While Randy Mamola did contest four races of the '79 500cc season, scoring two podiums in the process, he made his full-time debut the following year on a Suzuki and won twice on his way to second in the championship.

Mamola did the same the following year, but could only manage sixth in '82 with a solitary win and failed to win a race in '83 despite finishing third in the standings.

A move to Honda in '84 led to a return to winning ways, but once more he couldn't achieve the title - a common theme for the remainder of his time on the Honda, before a switch to Cagiva in '88 through to his retirement in '92 led to him struggling to replicate prior successes.

Four-times a runner-up in the premier class, Mamola - alongside Dani Pedrosa - holds the ignominious title of 'greatest rider never to win a world title', which is something a talent of his calibre did not deserve.

Espargaro: Aprilia MotoGP failures can't be allowed to happen again

Previous article

Espargaro: Aprilia MotoGP failures can't be allowed to happen again

Next article

Why Honda must now split with Lorenzo

Why Honda must now split with Lorenzo
Load comments
How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike Plus

How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike

His third place at Misano made Enea Bastianini the fifth different Ducati-mounted rider to score a podium in 2021. Amid a season that has seen one rider amass the bulk of Yamaha and Honda's success, the Ducati's versatility makes for a potent weapon, but the contribution of a former leading light shouldn't be forgotten

Sep 23, 2021
The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career Plus

The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career

Maverick Vinales’ early debut with Aprilia has been one of the most interesting plots of the recent MotoGP rounds. The results may not look standout on paper, but a closer inspection reveals just how much progress Vinales has truly made in understanding a bike that has taken him well out of his “comfort zone”

Sep 22, 2021
How ‘El Diablo’ and ‘the Beast’ starred in MotoGP’s Misano contest Plus

How ‘El Diablo’ and ‘the Beast’ starred in MotoGP’s Misano contest

On a day each of the podium trio could claim to be the star of the show, the San Marino Grand Prix will be remembered as a pivotal race in both MotoGP’s present and future. While Fabio Quartararo demonstrated his world title credentials just behind Francesco Bagnaia’s flawless victory charge, a new threat emerged from the shadows

Sep 20, 2021
How Ducati’s Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future Plus

How Ducati’s Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future

Duelling against Marc Marquez at the Aragon Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia came out on top to secure a long overdue MotoGP victory. As Marquez likened Bagnaia to a Ducati title contender of old, it appears the Italian rider could finally start to fight for wins on a more regular basis

Sep 13, 2021
Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble Plus

Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble

OPINION: The return of Andrea Dovizioso to the grid at Misano will be an interesting subplot to the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season. But the circumstances that have led to the former Ducati rider ending his sabbatical point to his signing being one more of convenience than a long-term commitment

Sep 8, 2021
Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP Plus

Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP

OPINION: The 2021 British Grand Prix was a historic day for MotoGP. At the centre of it was Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia after securing its first podium in the modern MotoGP era. It was something of a full-circle moment that highlighted just how far MotoGP has come in the last decade

Aug 30, 2021
Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home Plus

Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home

OPINION: Many of the UK’s MotoGP fans would prefer Donington Park to host the British GP beyond the expiry of Silverstone's current deal. But the circuit's fast, flowing circuit provides the best racing and should be regarded as its best bet for the foreseeable future

Aug 26, 2021
How MotoGP's record smasher is facing his toughest challenge Plus

How MotoGP's record smasher is facing his toughest challenge

The 2020 MotoGP season was an utterly enthralling affair, but few would argue with you if thought it the world championship was a poorer place without its biggest star Marc Marquez. In an exclusive interview, he explains the challenges he's faced in his comeback from injury and what he makes of the current MotoGP landscape

Aug 23, 2021