BURIRAM - Valentino Rossi has cast his dice. David Munoz, now assisting Davide Bulega in Moto2, world champion in 2018 with Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia, will take the place of Silvano Galbusera in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team. The voice has been circulating for a while inside the paddock - Galbusera arrived in 2014, replacing Jeremy Burgess - but everybody thought about a more experienced engineer like, for example, Ramon Forcada.
Once again, instead, Rossi takes everybody by surprise by getting a very young (41 years old) engineer, completely lacking in MotoGP experience. A gamble like Galbusera himself, coming from WSBs and completely devoid of MotoGP experience. True, Munoz will have at his side a team of techs that know the M1, its electronics and the Michelin tires inside and out - everything they need to be competitive today in MotoGP, but Valentino's choice remains surprising nonetheless.
This still remains a technical choice, that only people inside the box can really evaluate. Time will tell if it's the right one or not. What impresses me about this decision is the ever-continuing will from Rossi to question himself, despite his age and palmares. Once again, Rossi demonstrates his determination to do everything in his power to stay competitive and return to victory, leaving no stone unturned.
In the end, it would have beeen way easier to keep the same team. Instead, by changing the crew chief, Rossi will once again be under the spotlight. He will have no excuses for not being competitive against his critics - if he won't be fast, they will be out for blood. But VR46 doesn't care. He just want to win, and to do it he decided he had to swap the crew chief. Just like in football you swap the coach.
Corollary to all this, is that Valentino still feels fast as the best of class. He surely feels that he can still win races, and maybe a world title. It may feel obvious, but not to be taken for granted when you are 40, you haven't won a race for 41 GPs and you last stepped on the podium on the third race of 2019.
Numbers and statistics are against him, but Rossi does not see it this way - he feels second to none. He maybe has just one season left in his career, and he wants to make sure to do it at its best, with no regret or remorse. And in this regard, he is incredible - his tenacity is admirable. He doesn't make any excuse, he just wants to try and win, even with the (very real) risk to be heavily criticized. Do you know many people that would do the same? I don't.