The axe has once again fallen at Red Bull Racing in the middle of a Formula One season, as the former world champions announced that incumbent Pierre Gasly has been dropped in favour of star rookie Alexander Albon.
Watching Valentino Rossi ride a motorbike is a thing of beauty.
For his legion of fans around the world, nothing beats a Rossi masterclass.
But can he translate this into a serious world title charge and dethrone Marc Marquez?
Over the first three rounds of the 2019 season, this has become a viable possibility.
One reason is motivation and Rossi’s hunger.
People may look at Rossi and see just the nine world titles, but the man has also finished runner-up on six different occasions as well. He has finished second over three different decades, which speaks volumes about his freakish ability and consistency over his 23-year motorcycle career.
Every time he has finished second over a season, he has bounced back and challenged the best riders he has come up against. Think of names like Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.
All of these greats of racing have been ahead of Rossi at one point, but the Doctor has come back with a vengeance every time.
The only man who Rossi hasn’t been able to overcome thus far is Marc Marquez.
Rossi has however beaten Marquez in one season and that was 2015. Rossi probably should’ve won that world championship until he let it slip in Malaysia. He let Marquez get into his head in the latter stages of that season.
It also affected his title charge in 2016 as well, when numerous crashes and mistakes early in the year gifted Marquez a cushion that he hasn’t let go since.
And the last two years have seen Yamaha fall behind the pecking order of Honda and Ducati with the package of the bike not holding up in the last five or ten laps of races in the middle part of the season.
But now Yamaha is back and ready to challenge once more.
Rossi has started this season in excellent form with a close fifth place finish in Qatar, followed by second place results in Argentina and America. He could’ve won the last race but tyre issues and a few errors cost him and allowed Alex Rins to take the silverware.
Rossi’s greatest asset is his ability to post consistent top-five results, and if he does this, he has the potential to win between three and five races this year.
If he does that, and Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso have a letdown after the past two seasons, Rossi will be there when the whips are cracking.
The man has all the experience and know-how to get the job done.
He has already overtaken Maverick Vinales as the top Yamaha rider on the grid.
It’s about time he re-establishes his dominance over the rest of the field.
If Tiger Woods can win the Masters, why can’t Rossi win a tenth world title crown?
Don’t count the old man out.