Analysis: Can Rossi and Lorenzo still be teammates in 2016?

The Malaysian Grand Prix will be forever remembered for the clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, but what about its impact on the 2016 MotoGP rider market? Lena Buffa investigates.

Analysis: Can Rossi and Lorenzo still be teammates in 2016?
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing and Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Massimo Meregalli with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Podium: third place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Massimo Meregalli with Jorge Lorenzo
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Podium: second place Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team and Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Podium: race winner Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Last weekend's Sepang clash between Rossi and Marquez has dominated motorcycling headlines ever since, but little has been mentioned of its possible effect on rider line-ups for next season.

Massimo Meregalli, Director of the Yamaha factory team, admitted that the feud between Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo has become unbearable, to a point that it's now necessary that the two title rivals meet before the final Grand Prix of the season at Valencia to calm things down.

"We would like to have a talk with them," Meregalli told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport. "It’s evident that something is broken between these two.

"It doesn’t mean that they loved each other before the incident, but they worked well together in the same box despite the fact that they work with their own crews".

To calm down the riders before the big title showdown is one thing, but planning the future is a different challenge, because if all the works teams have their riders under contracts for 2016, it is now obvious that Rossi and Lorenzo can no longer work under the same roof as planned.

"The championship will not be the same from now on, because I can no longer see Valentino and Lorenzo working together," Carlo Pernat, Andrea Iannone’s manager, told Motorsport.com.

"Despite the fact that the contacts are signed, the scenarios will likely change.

"Next year will be a disaster between Marquez and Valentino, that’s for sure. With regards to Lorenzo, after what he declared, Yamaha will surely take action against him".

Could Lorenzo be Ducati-bound?

The most untenable seat is that of Lorenzo. After he showed a thumbs down to Rossi on the podium in Malaysia, the Spaniard said that he had lost all respect for his Italian teammate.

The pair worked in a professional manner when they became teammates once again in 2013 despite the tensions between them when they were first partnered together from 2008-10.

Lorenzo has been linked to Ducati several times in the past, most recently earlier this season, and a hypothetical move to the Bologna marque would surely be the simplest move for the Spaniard.

However, Ducati’s two riders - Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso – already are under contract for 2016.

Would the Italian motorcycle manufacturer be ready to expand to a third bike as Honda did in 2011 to make room for Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Dovizioso?

That said, Honda enjoyed far more time than Ducati has to perform its move, as it was decided upon and planned during the summer before; today, the rules would also need changing to allow Ducati to pursue the three-bike option.

What about Iannone?

Another solution for Lorenzo would be to take the place of one of the two current Ducati riders.

That could mean replacing Dovizioso, whose performance is not to his liking at the moment - but then again, a strong character like Iannone may not enjoy being Lorenzo’s teammate next year.

"Iannone has a contract with Ducati for 2016, like Lorenzo [with Yamaha]," Pernat added, while admitting also that a Rossi-Iannone duo at Yamaha "would be fantastic".

Pernat is convinced of one thing: the series’ officials need to take control of the situation to find a solution.

"In front of all this mess, it’s clear that several developments can happen," he said. "And if that happens, Dorna would need to get involved.

"It’s not possible to break contracts because of all the serious financial consequences. Yes, riders could switch places, but such changes would obviously need to be rubber stamped by Dorna".

Pedrosa on the move?

But other possibilities may emerge in the coming weeks, such as a similar trade involving Honda.

Still, it’s not as easy as it may seem, because forming a team with Lorenzo and Marquez will undoubtedly lead to frictions. After all, the two don’t particularly like each other despite talk of an anti-Rossi "pact" between the pair in the Italian media.

Besides, to send Pedrosa to Yamaha would be strange, as he has spent his entire career with Honda.

Another possible solution is to leave contracts unchanged, but to divide the Yamaha works team into two separate organisations with Rossi in one team, and Lorenzo in the other.

"Several different scenarios exist," said Pernat. "But I think some contracts can be altered even if they are already signed.

"Let’s wait until the season’s over to see what can be done," he concluded.

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