Valentino Rossi will delay making a decision on his MotoGP™ future until the middle of next season despite losing his factory Yamaha seat to Fabio Quartararo from 2021.
The legendary Rossi was asked to take a call on his long-term plans ahead of what will his 21st campaign in the premier class and 15th year with Yamaha.
Rossi endured his worst Yamaha season to date in 2019 and Maverick Vinales' contract extension this week meant there was more doubt about the Italian's place at the team.
On Wednesday, Yamaha announced Quartararo will join Vinales for the 2021 and 2022 seasons but have promised Rossi of the "availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike" should he wish to continue.
"For reasons dictated by the riders' market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future," said Rossi, a seven-time premier-class champion.
"Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time.
"Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations. It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP™ rider also in 2021.
"Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me.
"I'm happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season."
Quartararo is one of the hottest young prospects in MotoGP™ having scored seven podiums, five of which were second place, and six pole positions in his rookie season, finishing fifth in the overall standings.
Next term he will continue to ride with the Petronas Yamaha team before partnering Vinales from 2021.
"I'm delighted about what my management has achieved in the last few months together with YMC," he said.
"It was not simple to establish, but now I have a clear plan for the next three years and I'm really happy. I will work hard, like I did last year, and I’m extremely motivated to achieve great performances."