SATURDAY 27TH AUGUST 2005
Although he insists that he is currently happy competing on two-wheels, multiple motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi has stated that he could be competitive if he ever made the switch to Formula One.
Rossi has tested for the Ferrari team on more than one occasion and continues to be linked with a possible move to the world of four-wheels, his current MotoGP contract coming to an end at the end of 2006 – with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa reaching the end of their contracts with the Scuderia at exactly the same time.
Rossi's most recent run at Ferrari's Fiorano test circuit led to suggestions that the Italian could be signed as a test driver for 2006 before stepping into a race seat in 2007, but speaking ahead of the latest round of the MotoGP series at Brno, the 26-year-old again refused to be drawn on his future – although he did admit he felt he could be competitive in a Formula One car.
"Ferrari invited me to come and test, and since I was on vacation, I went," Rossi is quoted as telling Italian newspaper Repubblica. "But there is nothing to speculate about for the future. It wasn't me who asked to come and test, they called me, but I wouldn't let such an opportunity slip me by. It's always a great feeling. For them it was interesting to understand if indeed I can also be fast in cars.
"The Ferrari engineers treated me like a real test driver, and they strapped small gadgets to gather data. They made different changes to the car and wanted me to tell them how the car behaved every time and what was changed. Many times I guessed it right.
"I can't reveal the lap times, because Ferrari do not want to. But if you take into account how I improved, I would say the lap times were fine. So yes, I could be fast in Formula One as well."
However, Rossi did go on to admit that he could only tell his true competitiveness once he had driven an F1 machine on a greater number of circuits.
"In order to understand if I can indeed be competitive, I must also run on a track more challenging than Fiorano," he said. "Somewhere like Mugello or Barcelona would be suitable, because even if I'm familiar with the track, I wouldn't have an advantage; Formula One is a completely different experience altogether."
Rossi, Czech MotoGP 2005