MotoGP legend Rossi: I came very close to racing in F1

The legendary Valentino Rossi was given the opportunity to make the switch to four-wheeled racing, with a seat in Formula 1


Valentino Rossi has revealed he was one decision away from racing in Formula 1, but chose to remain in MotoGP.

Having just won his fifth MotoGP title, Rossi took part in his first public F1 test for Ferrari at the beginning of 2006 at the Circuit Ricardo Tomo in Valencia.

The Italian drove a detuned version of Ferrari‘s dominant 2004 championship-winning car, whilst Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa tested other machinery so a direct comparison was not possible.

However, Rossi was faster than Toyota‘s Jarno Trulli, the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica and McLaren drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Juan Pablo Montoya, one of whom was also running a detuned V10.

“I was very close [to racing in F1],” Rossi told In Depth with Graham Bensinger.

“At the end of 2006 I did a real test in Valencia, it was a good test. I remember that was the time when we came back home with a plan to decide to stay in MotoGP.

“I would have started with a smaller team, to try and get some experience. Then after that, if I was fast enough, I would have joined Ferrari.

“I felt quite good in the car, but I wanted to continue to race in MotoGP, so I said no to F1, but it was not an easy [decision].”

MotoGP – Valencia Grand Prix – Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Cheste, Spain – November 14, 2021 Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Valentino Rossi in action during the race REUTERS/Pablo Morano

Rossi had the opportunity to drive for Sauber for the 2007 F1 season, however he decided re-sign with Yamaha in MotoGP and would go on to claim two more championships.

It was a tricky decision according to Rossi, due to several people from his support team urging him to make the switch from MotoGP to F1.

“I had a lot of pressure from my side saying ‘Go to F1, go with Ferrari’,” said Rossi. “Everybody, when I tried to explain, told me to go to F1, even my mother.

“I thought I had to decide myself and in my heart I thought I had to stay in MotoGP.”

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Valentino Rossi’s other F1 outings

Rossi was also in the running to replace Massa during the 2009 F1 season, after the Brazilian was stuck by debris in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix, suffering multiple injuries in the accident.

In 2010, Rossi tested the F2008 at Mugello as a gift from Stefano Domenicali to celebrate his eighth world title.

Nine years later, he swapped machinery with Lewis Hamilton as part of a sponsor event, to get behind the wheel of the Mercedes W08 in Valencia, whilst Hamilton rode Rossi‘s 2019 Yamaha YZR-M1.

“I have tried an F1 car before, but much has changed since then,” said Rossi.

“At first you get an amazing sensation of speed. The G-forces were not so bad, but it takes some getting used to. Once I got into the rhythm I could really push. It was a great pleasure.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
- Advertisment -


F1 Driver Ratings – 2024 Hungarian GP

Oscar Piastri stunned fans at the Hungaroring by taking his first career victory at the 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand...

Emotional Cassidy ‘incredibly sad’ to miss out in dramatic Formula E title race

Nick Cassidy was almost lost for words after he dramatically lost the 2024 Formula E title to Pascal Wehrlein...

Why NASCAR waited and ended the Brickyard 400 under caution

Kyle Larson, a Hendrick Motorsports driver, winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the thirty-year anniversary of...

Max Verstappen slams Red Bull over shocking 2024 Hungarian GP performance

Max Verstappen slams Red Bull for a shocking display at the 2024 Hungarian GP, calling the car slow and...

Emotional Oscar Piastri relives maiden F1 win at Hungarian GP

An emotional Oscar Piastri said his 2024 Hungarian GP victory was a “dream come true” as he took his...

Colton Herta Triumphs in Toronto, Ending 40-Race Winless Streak

Michael Andretti’s jubilant reaction following the IndyCar Grand Prix of Toronto at Exhibition Place was unmistakable as Colton Herta...

Victory and redemption: Pascal Wehrlein’s road to becoming Formula E champion

Following a wide-open battle that boiled down to the very last race of the 2024 season, Pascal Wehrlein officially...

Evans hits out at Jaguar: Team were working against me in Formula E finale

Mitch Evans feels his Jaguar team were working against him during the Formula E finale in London as he...

London E-Prix Results 2024 – Formula E Round 16

Pascal Wehrlein emerged victorious in one of the most dramatic races in Formula E history, securing his maiden Drivers'...

Max Verstappen escapes crash penalty: Blames Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen blames Lewis Hamilton for turning in too early for their Hungaroring crash on July 21 as the...
- Advertisment -
Exit mobile version