The iconic number 46 of motorsport could have joined them most important series on four wheels. It is Valentino Rossi himself, a guest of the “Passa dal BSMT” podcast with Gianluca Gazzoli, who recalled the story of when he was close to moving to Formula One after being involved in some testing sessions with Scuderia Ferrari.
In the last episode of the podcast “Passa dal BSMT“, during the chat with the host of the program, Valentino Rossi retraced – among many other events – the period 2004-2006. During those two years, the Italian professional motorcycle road racer had the opportunity to switch from two to four wheels.
The story starts from the last year of Michael Schumacher’s domination, 2004. At the end of the season, Valentino Rossi was contacted by the then Prancing Horse team principal: “In 2004, when I won with Yamaha, Stefano Domenicali called me: ‘You have to try the Ferrari F1 car'”.
Valentino Rossi’s response was positive: “I told him: ‘Okay’. We went to Fiorano to test the car, I was pretty fast, I lapped under the minute!”, he explains.
The former driver revealed a story regarding the lap times at Fiorano: “In those days, the mechanics made bets: ‘Will he lap above or below the minute?’ they said. And they did it with me too.”
“I lapped in 59.1, so under a minute”, he pointed out – “Then we continued. They told me: ‘Let’s try it again’, so I went to Mugello “, Valentino Rossi added.
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The time came for official practice: “Then I did a real test in Valencia. There I had to choose”, says Valentino Rossi. A crossroads was reached: “There was the possibility to test my abilities in Formula 1. I wouldn’t have raced immediately for Ferrari, but I would have started with ‘team B’, I would have started with Minardi (it would soon become Toro Rosso, ed.).” – the Italian revealed.
“After that, if I had been fast enough, I would have moved to Ferrari. But we had to see,” he specifies. “It was the end of 2006″, recalls Rossi, “…I was 27 years old, but I didn’t feel ready to give up on motorcycles.”
MotoGP or Formula 1 under the Ferrari wing? Valentino Rossi was forced to choose. At the crossroads, the two-wheeled route was taken: “I knew I could still win with motorcycles. The first passion was for motorbikes”, concluded VR46.