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Can Valentino Rossi help Petronas Yamaha SRT reach the next level?

It is a season of change at the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team after an impressive run as the best satellite team on the grid during their first two years in MotoGP.

But will adding seven-time premier class world champion Valentino Rossi prove to be the final piece of the puzzle as the Malaysia-based side takes aim at the team title?

Rossi, one of the greatest the sport has ever seen, made the switch to the satellite side after spending eight seasons with the Yamaha factory team while French rider Fabio Quartararo, who led the riders' standings for the majority of the 2020 season, heads in the other direction.

The legendary Italian racer has plenty of detractors. It has been almost four years since "The Doctor" last stood on the top step of the podium at any race and his final seasons with Yamaha hinted at a rider on a decline. But can a new setting bring the best out of the veteran again?

After all, Rossi will be provided the same 2021 Factory-spec bike that Quartararo and Maverick Vinales will be riding at Yamaha while his teammate Franco Morbidelli will have to do with the older A-spec YZR-M1 that, according to Petronas SRT team principal Razlan Razali, could be updated to some extent for the new season.

Speaking of Morbidelli, last season's runner-up, now has his long-time mentor Rossi as his teammate. He will be raring to improve on his 2020 performance that saw him finish five times on the podium and grab three victories. The 26-year-old will be hoping to punch above his bike's weight to outperform his Yamaha teammates again and have another shot at the title.

SRT has set the premier class on fire since their debut in 2019 emerging as the top satellite team for two seasons running, winning the Independent Teams championship, and finishing overall runners-up last season. Taking into consideration their meteoric rise over the last couple of years, it won't be a surprise if the Sepang team pull off something special in 2021.

What they said

Valentino Rossi: "It's a new challenge for me. This is a very young team, but in the last two years they have already been really competitive. I am happy to see my new bike for this year. It looks awesome.

"My targets for 2021 are to be competitive, fight to win races, fight to achieve podiums, and also fight for a good position in the world championship standings at the end of the season.

"We are all very focused on our targets to make the best we can. I think that with Franco, we are a very interesting couple of riders as we know each other really well. All the whole team has a lot of motivation and I will give my maximum to achieve together the best possible result at the end of the calendar. We are ready to start."

Franco Morbidelli: "This will be my third year with the team. What is different from the last years is my teammate. I expect and hope it will be a great season for Vale and me.

"We have had a strong relationship for many years and we will learn a lot from each other. My personal target for 2021 is to get better and improve myself as a person, rider and athlete.

"I know it's hard and difficult because last year we were quite fast and we made great races and achieved great results. Nevertheless, we will have to try to improve. So that's my aim -- try to be better year after year."

As the lights go out...

"Can 'The Doctor' re-find his form in his new team? That's the million dollar question, and for my part I think the move to Petronas Yamaha SRT might be exactly the fresh start Rossi needs," says FOX Sports Asia MotoGP presenter Edward Russell.

"The Petronas package is a race-winning one -- we saw that last year -- and in fact it was even more successful than its factory counterpart. There will also be less pressure on Rossi's shoulders and he'll be able to ride with more freedom than perhaps he's ever had in the premier class.

"On the other hand, let's not forget that Morbidelli was runner-up in the championship last season, and with an extra year of experience under his belt, and the added advantage of now sharing a garage with his mentor, he could well be a dark horse for this year's title."

2021 will be a success if: With six race wins, Petronas SRT ended last season with most victories by any team -- factory or satellite. And with a little more consistency, they could have challenged for the team title as well as the riders' title.

The major challenge for the team in 2021 will be to get Rossi ticking in his new surroundings and get the best version of him on the tracks. It will be a tough ask to improve on their record from 2020, but the upcoming season could be a disappointment if SRT fail to continue on their current trajectory and become genuine title contenders.