Agostini talks Rossi, racing and Formula One.
Only one person has won more premier-class titles than reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi and that's fellow Italian Giacomo Agostini, who dominated motorcycle grand prix racing throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In total, Agostini won a record breaking 15 world championships and 122 grands prix - with eight of those titles, and 68 wins, being claimed in the premier 500cc class.
Those all-time records look set to stand for at least another season, with Rossi currently boasting five premier-class titles and 53 500cc/MotoGP race wins from his six years in the class, but most feel that - should The Doctor chose to remain in MotoGP - he is capable of overcoming 'Ago' to become the most successful grand prix rider ever.
"In my day we had a lot of different circuits - a lot of dangerous circuits which were also very, very difficult; circuits like Spa Francorchamps, the Isle of Man and Nürburgring were very difficult to win at. Today we have a lot of technology and computers but I still think it is always difficult to win. It was difficult in my time, with my bike, and it is difficult today with the new bikes and all their electronics," Agostini told Crash.net Radio.
"In October last year I tried Valentino's Yamaha M1 (middle picture)," continued the now 63-year-old. "It was very nice to ride because there has been a lot of progress - compared with my bikes - in terms of the engine, the frame, the tyres and the brakes. It's not completely different though. It looks easy to ride (a modern bike) but it isn't; 220-230 horsepower makes it very difficult!"
The similarities between Rossi and Agostini extend beyond simply nationality and dominant success: Agostini shook up the grand prix establishment by leaving the dominant MV Agusta team for a new challenge at Yamaha in 1974, while Rossi created a similar shock 20-years later when he ditched the dominant Honda RC211V for a Yamaha M1.
Rossi went on to stun the two-wheeled world by taking the title in his first Yamaha season while Agostini, although able to win races in his first year, took until his second season to clinch the title for the Japanese factory.
Rossi's 2004 title was Yamaha's first premier-class win for 12-years, while Agostini's was Yamaha's first ever and marked MV Agusta's first 500cc championship defeat in 18 years!
"It is difficult to compare us because I am the champion of my time, he is the champion of today," said Giacomo. "Of course Rossi is a great rider; he is born to race a motorcycle. Everybody would like to have Mike Hailwood, Agostini, Phil Read, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene and Valentino Rossi together on a racetrack but this is impossible! We must be happy with how things are. Every ten years we have a great champion and today it is Valentino."
While Rossi is currently grabbing headlines with his high profile F1 outings, Agostini also switched to four-wheel racing - but admits that he left it too late to be successful and, even then, didn't do it for the right reasons:
"I wanted to change to cars in the middle of my career, but I decided to stay in motorcycles and then only at the end of my career did I try Formula One," explained Agostini, who endured a tough season in the 1978 European Formula 2 championship before setting up his own team to run a 1978 Williams in the 1979 and 1980 British F1 championship - in which he claimed a best finish of second and numerous podiums. "But it was too late (to make a change of career). I only really wanted to try cars so that I could forget about motorbikes because when I stopped racing motorbikes it was very sad."
So, should Rossi make the move?
"It is difficult to say. Maybe yes maybe no. If he wants to change, why not? He can try," mused Ago. "Of course, it is difficult because he wins everything in motorcycles and it would be very, very difficult for him to do the same in Formula One. But we'll never know unless he tries…"