From the magnificent Philharmonie of Verona, Italy, and with a few cans of opera – a refreshing change from the standard MotoGP regime of Electronica or Metal–the team went through the presentation of its drivers, its painting and the management of its team. The launch was disappointed by the Technology – although the Facebook feed was quite smooth, the YouTube video was stuttering and barely visible.
Not that it was that important. Team launches, especially by satellite teams, are mainly dog and pony shows aimed mainly at flattering the sponsors’ egos and generating a headline or two on a slow news day. In this he succeeded. There was a lot of talk on social media about the launch. Subsequently, the media spoke with some of the protagonists of Zoom, a Technology that will remain in MotoGP for the foreseeable future. And it gave some interesting ideas, some about the team, others about the state of MotoGP and what could change.
One of the biggest questions on the minds of many is how long the RNF team will last, since the team has a one-year contract with Yamaha. However, Yamaha and RNF have made it clear that this is for the most part a formality. The agreement is limited to one year due to Yamaha’s internal corporate governance rules, which stipulate that long-term transactions with newly created companies cannot be concluded. The Petronas team has existed in one form or another since 2014, when he signed a contract with Yamaha for the 2019 Season.
However, this does not mean that a contract extension with Yamaha is a formality. Team Leader Razlan Razali will have to prove that the team is viable at least in the medium term. “I think for Yamaha, it’s all about stability in the leadership of the team,” said the founder of the Malaysian team.
“Of course we have a goal in terms of performance on the track, but Sport is Sport, and that includes motorsport with MotoGP. Anything can happen. For Yamaha, therefore, the way we manage the team as a whole for the year is more important.”It wasn’t something he was particularly worried about in recent years. “The good thing is that we have the experience, Yamaha knows us, It’s the same group of people. But despite this, we have to show what is possible in terms of team leadership.”
RNF would know its future by the middle of the Season, Razali said. “Yamaha will evaluate our performance in June. And I am confident that we can lead the team well, so they will consider an extension beyond 2022 by June. If it takes another year or two, we will discuss with Yamaha.”
Empty Nest Syndrome
However, the team is not quite the same group of people. When Valentino Rossi joined the Petronas Yamaha SRT team for the 2021 Season, he brought team leader David Muñoz and data engineer Matteo Flamigni. After Rossi resigned, Muñoz and Flamigni went to the VR46 team and took several other team members with them.
“One side of the Garage remains the same, It’s Andrea’s Garage. We had to replace the other side because the team had left VR46. So we had to replace the other side with Darryn with a few people,” Razlan Razali explained. This is a common problem for teams when high-level drivers come and go. When the 2012 Grand Prix Commission repealed the so-called Rookie rule, which prevented MotoGP recruits from switching directly to a factory team, in order to allow Marc Marquez to switch directly from Moto2 to the Repsol Honda team, a satellite team official expressed his support for the change. They pointed out precisely this peril that a handpicked driver and his staff would be thrown into a satellite team for one Season, which forced the team to part with the staff who had often been on the team for many years. Rossi’s departure from the Petronas team left a huge hole on one side of the Garage, and RNF had to compose a new crew for Darryn Binder almost from scratch.
The reinvention of MotoGP
The most interesting things Razlan Razali had to say were about the future of the paddock and sponsorship. The recent time recent times has caused a huge change in mentality in MotoGP. Before the recent times, the paddock was usually filled with guest cards, apparently distributed to everyone who asked, as long as he was a friend of the sister of the uncle of the person who had cut the hair of the little daughter of a brother of a Moto3 mechanic. This was one of the reasons why the drivers and teams liked races like Qatar, where there were much fewer Fans present and where they could do their business almost without problems.
He also experienced opposition from the team leaders and the sales staff responsible for selling the MotoGP to the sponsors. They tried to sell the MotoGP as a high-quality offer, a difficult argument when their sponsors were usually trampled by Misano or Jerez. A decade ago, there was a brief attempt to add value to the satellite teams when the MotoGP part of the Paddock was separated from the rest. But this caused an untimely passed away as impracticable and took away the value from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams who wanted to give value to their sponsors by allowing them to take a tour of the MotoGP part of the paddock.