Suzuki has declared itself in 'shock' following the departure of long-serving team manager Davide Brivio for the new Alpine Formula 1 team.
While Alpine has yet to formally confirm Brivio's appointment as its new CEO, an imminent announcement is expected, but in the meantime, Suzuki has been left reeling by his exit.
The experienced Italian departs MotoGP after a 20-year career in the sport, the last eight of which were with Suzuki following its return to the series in 2013, culminating in last season's title triumphs for Joan Mir and Team Suzuki Ecstar.
Brivio has described his move as "a difficult decision", ultimately deciding to take "a new professional challenge and opportunity".
He added: "The hardest part will be to leave this fabulous group of people, whom I started this project with when Suzuki rejoined the championship.
"And it’s hard to say goodbye also to all the people who have arrived over the years to create this great team.
"I feel sad from this point of view, but at the same time, I feel a lot of motivation for this new challenge, which was the key when I had to decide between renewing my contract with Suzuki or starting a completely new experience.
“Achieving a MotoGP title is something that will remain in the Suzuki history books and it will always have a special place in my life memories.
"I would like to deeply thank all the Suzuki management for their trust and confidence in me, which they had since the beginning.
"I would like to thank every single member of our MotoGP group in Japan and at the track, all the Suzuki network, and of course, all the riders who rode for the team in this period, especially Joan and Alex who did a great 2020 season.
“Joan becoming world champion was a dream come true for me and for all the people who worked hard and accompanied me on this magnificent journey.
"I wish the best to Team Suzuki MotoGP. I hope that the results in the future will be better and better and I will always be a Suzuki fan. Thanks very much, Suzuki.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar project leader Shinichi Sahara now faces the unenviable task of trying to find someone to fill Brivio's shoes.
“Sincerely, it was shocking news for us about Davide’s departure from Team Suzuki Ecstar," said Sahara.
"It feels like somebody took a part of me because I always discussed with him how to develop the team and the bikes, and we’ve worked together for a long time.
"In 2020 we achieved fantastic results despite the unusual and difficult situation due to Covid-19. And 2021 will be an even more important year for us to keep the momentum.
"Now we are trying to find the best way to cover for the ‘Davide loss’. Luckily in most cases, I have had quite a similar way of thinking to him, therefore it is not so difficult to keep the direction we should go as Team Suzuki Ecstar, I think.
"We would like to wish him the best of luck for the future.”
Brivio will join a team in the middle of its rebrand from Renault to Alpine, but will now be given the opportunity to oversee Fernando Alonso's return to F1 after a two-year hiatus, with the double world champion partnering Esteban Ocon this season.
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