Valentino Rossi had the worst season of his racing career in 2020, worse than his two seasons at Ducati and his maiden season in the 125cc season. But, did 2020 mark the beginning of the end for Rossi’s career?
The Doctor ended his fifteenth Grand Prix season in the worst position he’s ever been in, finishing the year in 15th with just 66 points to his name. The 41-year-old’s final season with the factory team delivered just a single podium, finishing third in Andalucia. However, since then, Rossi was unable to stand on the rostrum again but came close with a fifth and a fourth at Austria and Misano.
Rossi’s title hopes came crashing down at the mid-point of the season, retiring from three races in a row, one in Misano just a week after his fourth place, one in Catalunya whilst sat in a comfortable second place and a third in Le Mans all seeing him slip out of the top ten.
Lying in 13th with just 57 points to his name, the season got worse for Rossi after contracting COVID-19 – ruling him out of both Aragon rounds. The comeback wasn’t easy, missing a day of running at Valencia before a mechanical problem ended his race early. The Doctor capped off a miserable 2020 season with two 12th place finishes at Valencia and Portimao. However, is this the downfall of the Italian great?
Rewind to the aforementioned start of the season where Valentino Rossi and his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team began working “in a different way” which resulted in a rostrum finish at round two; The Doctor was just as competitive as his recent years in blue. Four top-five finishes in the opening six races left Rossi well within championship contention, in a season which his experience could have benefited.
However, the midpoint of the year is where it turned sour for the seven-time premier class champion, crashing out of three races in a row. The first coming at Misano, losing the front at turn four on just the second lap before a turn two crash in Catalunya just seven days later robbed the Italian of his second podium of the year – potentially his first win since Assen 2017.
The drama didn’t stop there as Rossi tumbled out of the French Grand Prix after getting caught out by the Le Mans rain at the first corner. Just as you thought that the season couldn’t get any worse for the Yamaha rider, The Doctor tested positive for COVID-19, missing both Aragon races, but returned to Valencia which resulted in yet another DNF, this time, a mechanical problem.
Rossi wrapped up his disastrous season with a pair of 12th place finishes at the second Valencian round and the one-off race at Portimao.
The Doctor moves on to new adventures in 2021, joining two-time independant champions, Razlan Razali’s PETRONAS SRT Yamaha squad. Rossi will partner protege Franco Morbidelli, who secured three race wins and two podium finishes on the way to his independent title.
Could the change be what The Doctor prescribed, or will 2021 be another season to forget for the Italian great?
Featured image: MotoGP.com