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Valentino Rossi must call time on his legendary career because watching him is becoming embarrassing.
That's the verdict of former World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson, who hopes the MotoGP legend will finally call time on his on-track career at the end of this season.
Rossi, who has seven world titles in the premier class, has refused to give up on his racing career but after moving to the Petronas Yamaha team in the winter, has seen himself drop down to the back of the grid.
Rossi, 42, has just three points finishes to his name so far in 2021 – and the best of which was only a 10th place finish in Italy. He will look to change his fortunes in the German GP this weekend.
BT Sport pundit Hodgson said: "It is painful to watch. I am not enjoying any of it. I think the majority of MotoGP fans aren't enjoying it.
"It's getting to the point where it is getting a little bit embarrassing.
"Watching his team celebrate because he had got through to qualifying group two in the last round was like he had won the world championship. It was bizarre, really.
"He can't be enjoying it. I am sure he enjoys what he has achieved with the people around him, like Morbidelli, Bagnaia, his brother (Ricardo Rossi), he gets a buzz off that. But what he's doing on the track, it's painful.
"When he comes into the pits and he takes his helmet off and he looks at the times, he will be thinking 'oh god'.
"I am sure it will be his last year; I hope it will be his last year.
"I don't want him to get one good result and then go 'I could just do one year as a rider/manager combination', I don't want him to do that because it is painful to watch."
Rossi has not won a race since he won the 2017 Dutch TT and an unlikely victory now would make him the oldest race winner in 500cc racing since 68 years.
But the experience Rossi has gained in his illustrious 21-year career in the senior class may now be counting against him.
Hodgson said: "It is deeper pain to risk. In the past, Valentino would risk everything and he would do that all weekend, where in recent years it was only the race where he would risk.
"In qualifying he would do OK, then in the race he would do OK but now we have got to the point where he is risking nothing throughout free practice, he doesn't risk a lot in qualifying.
"A qualifying lap with a new tyre is a risk, because you don't get a lot of feel, it is just blind faith, so you have to be brave.
"I understand why he doesn't want to be flicked off his bike at 130mph, but now it is happening in the race as well. He is not being aggressive in the first lap. He used to be really aggressive on the first lap but now he isn't.
"There is a reason there aren't more 40 year olds racing. It's not because you get to 40 and you go 'I'm bored of earning all that money and travelling round the world is really rubbish racing motorcycles, I want to do something different'. You don't.
"What happens is that you slowly become slower. You lose your reaction time and the want and need, the risk, it all plays a part.
"All these segments as to why he's not the rider he once was anymore."
- BT Sport is the home of MotoGP in the UK. Catch all the action from the German GP exclusively live on BT Sport including practice, qualifying and the race. The weekend’s action starts from 8am on Friday 18 th June on BT Sport 2
- Valentino Rossi
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