The nine-time motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi (41) has had an unprecedented Grand Prix career on two wheels over the past 25 years. But the MotoGP superstar is also fast on four wheels: Rossi has already competed in the World Rally Championship and repeatedly takes part in endurance races.
And even with the premier class Formula 1 Rossi had more than just flirted. Starting in 2004, the Italian has taken a seat in a Ferrari several times for test drives – and is really fast. The motorcycle icon loses little time on Michael Schumacher’s lap record in its first test in Fiorano in 2004.
Former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo (73) remembers on “Motorsport.com”: “It wasn’t an advertising campaign, Ferrari didn’t need it. Of course, in the beginning it was a kind of courtesy to fulfill the wish of a great champion. But I saw that he liked it. Although he lacked consistency, he had a lot of potential and desire. “
Rossi like Massa to Hinwil
So the Reds have a plan for Rossi’s spectacular move to Formula 1. Not directly in the works team, of course: Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are a proven duo there. Di Montezemolo reveals: “At one point we thought he would be driving for Sauber for a year.”
Sauber was already closely associated with Ferrari back then, the Hinwilers get their V10 engines in Maranello and call them Petronas. With Felipe Massa, the Italians have already delegated one of their talents to Sauber. But then the deal to send Rossi to Hinwil falls through. Also because from 2005 on, Sauber will become a BMW works team.
Rossi still rides MotoGP today
But also because Rossi shies away from the mega challenge. Di Montezemolo: “He was smart and preferred to stay number one on the bike instead of number four or five in the car.”
The rest is known. Rossi continues to drive MotoGP and becomes world champion again in 2005, 2008 and 2009. And the Italian will continue to drive in the premier class in 2021 as a 42-year-old soon – even if he is now only number four or five on the motorcycle …