From 2001 to 2005 Valentino Rossi wrote a success story in the royal class that seeks its own kind: Overall, five consecutive titles, three with Honda and two immediately after his change to Yamaha.
Enjoyed by success, Il Dottore loved it then with a change to the royal class on four wheels, To emulate John Surtees, who had won as the only driver in the 500s and Formula One. Rossi participated in several tests with Scuderia Ferrari between 2004 and 2010.
What started as a game was close to becoming a reality in the year 2006, as Rossi’s father Graziano once admitted. How close Luca di Montezemolo, then Ferrari president, tells in an interview with’Motorsport.com’.
“Everyone knows it was not an advertising campaign, Ferrari did not need it,” he recalls Rossi’s test drives. Rossi first steered a Formula One Ferrari in April 2004 in Fiorano, wearing a Michael Schumacher helmet. At that time he was only 0,7 seconds away from the German round record on the track.
“At one point we thought he would drive a year clean”
Di Montezemolo says: “At the beginning it was almost like a favor to fulfill the wish of a great champion. I saw he liked it. Above all, he lacked continuity, but he had a lot of potential and desire.”
Actually Ferrari at the time thought about putting Rossi on a customer team to prepare him for the Scuderia:”At one point we thought he would drive clean for a year, but he was smart and preferred it, The number one on the motorcycle, instead of number four or five in the car.”
So it did not come to the sensation transfer, Rossi swore off formula 1 or racing on four wheels, but therefore did not. At the end of 2019 he switched places with Lewis Hamilton for one day and took his place in the World Championship Mercedes of 2017. Recently he joined the 12h of Bahrain for the umpteenth time.