aka Doctor Rossi seems quite ready to switch to a 4WD career, and that too with the racing team that even Formula 1 drivers dream of racing for – Ferrari. But as we all know, it wasn’t because Rossi would go on to build a glorious career in the world of MotoGP which would extend until 2021, when Rossi announced his retirement from MotoGP.
Although Valentino Rossi hasn’t quite gotten out of the racing world and finally made his way to racing cars, he opens up and shares the story of what happened on the way between him and his racing career with Ferrari in Formula 1, back in 2006.
Valentino Rossi, Ferrari and Formula 1 almost happened
In an interview with American journalist Graham Bensinger, uploaded to YouTube and spanning over an hour, Valentino Rossi spoke about everything from why he decided to retire to how he felt before each race. However, what we are here to talk about is his experience with the idea of racing in Formula 1 and Ferrari’s role in making it a reality.
For this, you need to go to the 25-minute mark on the hour-long video where Rossi starts talking about his secret test with Ferrari in 2006. Rossi starts describing it as a “very good moment” in his life.
Rossi shares how he received a call from Stefano Domenicali, the current CEO of the Formula One Group who took over as Ferrari F1 Team Principal in 2007. Domenicali invited Rossi to test the F1 car at Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in Italy and after Rossi accepted, the task was to keep confidentiality of the test.
In the end, Rossi went on to participate in the Valencia group test where he would finish the test just 0.7 seconds after Michael Schumacher’s best time. On the second day of testing, Rossi will be faster than the likes of Mark Webber, David Coulthard and Jarno Trulli. Schumacher will continue to praise Rossi after the test, saying he would be immediately competitive if he made the switch.
But as we found out in the video, his plan with Ferrari will have Rossi drive a smaller car with a smaller team, gain experience and, if he’s fast enough, go on to get a seat on the Ferrari Formula 1 team. However, this meant a lot of variables for Rossi. And despite being “not too bad” with the car, he wanted to continue racing in MotoGP.
Valentino Rossi: The greatest motorcycle racer of all time
And what a career in MotoGP it would turn out to be. Rossi would go on to become a nine-time Grand Prix world champion, and the MotoGP Hall of Fame legend created his own racing team, called Racing Team VR46, which competes today in both MotoGP and Moto2.
Rossi is the only rider in motorcycle racing history to have competed in more than 400 Grand Prix races and won world championships in four classes, making him the only rider to achieve this feat. He holds the record for consecutive podium finishes, 23 consecutive top three results in a row, and wins on seven different motorcycles.
Valentino Rossi’s 89 victories in MotoGP are the highest ever, with second place going to Giacomo Agostini with 68 first class victories. In all categories, Rossi has podiumed 235 times in all categories, of which 199 are from MotoGP, while Jorge Lorenzo is second with 114 MotoGP podiums.
He has competed on 29 racetracks in MotoGP and won 23 of those tracks and that’s not all, Rossi has the longest Grand Prix career in all categories spanning over 20 years and 311 days between his first and last MotoGP victory.
He raced in MotoGP until the age of 42. And there’s so much, so much we’d need in a day to list them all. But this should give you an idea of why Valentino Rossi is so highly respected by MotoGP fans around the world.
Valentino Rossi continues to race
Valentino Rossi may have retired from MotoGP, but he hasn’t given up racing. The switch to the world of 4×4 racing has finally taken place as he is now racing with Team WRT in the European Endurance Cup for the GT World Challenge and driving an Audi R8 LMS. Rossi is competing for the defending champion team – both for the Endurance Cup and the Sprint Cup – and holds the iconic number 46.
Thinking of what it would have been anyone’s guess. But given the phenomenal success of Rossi’s racing career and his direct competitiveness on a Formula One car, we’re sure if his F1 career had taken off, the story would still be worth talking about.
After all, wasn’t it great to see Valentino Rossi make his F1 Ferrari debut in 2007 – exactly the year Lewis Hamilton made his F1 debut?
Sources: Graham Bensinger, MotoGP