As Valentino Rossi prepares for his 17th season in the MotoGP paddock, talk of his retirement intensifies with the Italian having just this year left on his current contract.
The 39-year-old Movistar Yamaha rider has said that he will “probably race for the next two seasons” but what do BT Sport’s experts think?
Ahead of the curtain raiser in Qatar, one of 19 races that will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport this season, BTSport.com asked the team to have their say.
If you’re not yet a BT Sport subscriber and want to watch the Qatar Grand Prix, starting at 9.45am on Friday 16th March, we can get you set up in just 15 minutes right here!
“He’s still fit, he’s still fast and he’s still hungry – he loves the job. As long as he’s got that passion and desire he’ll keeping coming back.
“The advances in electronics in bike development means the riders don’t have as many of the nasty highsides as they used to, so careers can be prolonged as long as the rider keeps himself in shape and looks after his diet.
“Even the advances in medicine, so if they do hurt themselves, means they’re back on a bike in a few weeks now because rehabilitation has developed in the last 20 years or so. That’s not just in MotoGP either. I read a recent interview with Tom Brady and even at 40-year-old he’s still one of the leading quarterbacks in the NFL and that was unheard of a few years ago.
“So careers are being extended for top athletes and sports people and Valentino is showing that in our sport. As long as you’re fast and hungry, that experience can be beneficial. You still need to be prepared to put it on the line, and he clearly is. He’s suffered injuries in the last few years and bounced back in a matter of weeks.
“He’s got enough money that he doesn’t need to race, he can lie at home and take it easy or on a yacht anywhere in the world but he loves racing motorbikes and being in the paddock.
“I think being realistic he’s probably got a two-year contract left and then he can bow out, but I’d never say never with him continuing after that even!”
“It looks like he will sign again for next season so he must be pretty comfortable on the bike and it’ll shut the media up for another year as well!
“The longer Valentino Rossi is winning races and staying in the Championship it’s only a good thing for MotoGP so that’s exciting in itself – but what competition he faces this year.”
“I’ve got a lot of feelers out there trying to find out if he’s going to continue next year.
“The test in Thailand might not have gone so great but the one before did and it seems like they’re talking about extending his contract for at least one, if not two, more years.
“After that, who knows? If he’s still competitive and still loving it he’ll still be in the paddock.”
“I think he’s got two more years, he’s 39-years-old now and I can’t believe he’s still at the level he’s at, is able to perform at that level and has the motivation you need to do it.
“People knock it when we talk about him being the GOAT, the greatest of all time, but he’s incredible and at this moment in time he probably still is.”
Watch the Qatar Grand Prix on BT Sport 2 from 9.45am on Friday 16th March