Rossi: Ferrari is the 'Ultimate Challenge'

Despite recently distancing himself from suggestions that he is on the brink of committing to Formula One, Valentino Rossi has admitted that driving for Ferrari would be the 'ultimate challenge'

Rossi: Ferrari is the 'Ultimate Challenge'

Rossi has been critical of suggestions from Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn that he was planning a major testing programme with the team prior to a possible switch to F1. But the newly crowned MotoGP Champion admits that Grand Prix racing does have a lure for him.

"For sure it is the ultimate challenge for me - a crazy challenge," he said in an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday. "But I have to decide what is best."

He added: "I have won on Honda and Yamaha so maybe it is interesting to win with a third team, Ducati, who are Italian. But I could also start F1 or rallying. I love rallying much more."

The one condition that Rossi has laid down for a switch to F1 is that he will only do if he thinks he can win.

"I don't know what to do," he said. "But Ferrari is possible. If I test the car for a year I can be quite competitive the next season...It means winning. I race to win. If I am on the bike or in a car it will always be the same."

Rossi's desire to make a success out of his Formula One tests was made evident during his first run for Ferrari in April 2004, when he wanted to prove wrong those within the team who had bet money on him being a flop.

"When I got ready to drive a Formula One car for the first time in my life I heard the Ferrari engineers having bets about me," he said. "They say if you lap their track at Fiorano in 60 seconds it means you drive the Ferrari quite fast.

"If you are slower you are not an F1 racer. Most of the engineers bet money I never go under a minute. I keep on smiling but, inside, I want to show them.

Rossi eventually lapped in 59.1 seconds during that first test, and in his second run earlier this year he claimed he got down to a 57.5 seconds. "A lot of people lost their money," Rossi said.

The Italian revealed, however, that his first drive in a Formula One car was not quite a pleasant experience.

"I don't like it," Rossi told the newspaper. "On my bike I feel free. I have a relationship with the bike. But a Formula One car feels like a cage where you cannot move. It is not natural.

"So I spin the Ferrari twice in my first three laps. Then I stall it. Then one engineer, he say, 'Look, to work, this car has to be driven fast. Understand?' But everything is strange. Even the braking is scary because of the downforce.

"The engineers show me that [Michael] Schumacher uses twice the force in his leg as me when he brakes. And the faster he drives the more stable the car. But I am so slow the car won't go straight. The tyres can't even reach the right temperature."

Going faster and faster, Rossi says, he eventually began enjoying the experience. But there are plenty of factors why he still hesitates about making the move to Formula One and Ferrari, and one of them is whether he could cope with the intense interest such a move would spark in Italy.

"It is hard for people in London to understand. I walk around here and I am not recognised much. It's beautiful. The rest of the world is difficult. People chase me. But Italy is the hardest.

"I go home to see my family but I cannot stay more than three days. There is too much pressure. I don't like being famous - it is like a prison. And driving for Ferrari would make it far worse. It is a big problem and so I don't know for sure if I say yes or no to Ferrari."

And although he believes F1 drivers lack character, he does have some kind words to say about Kimi Raikkonen - the man who some suggest could be Rossi's teammate at Ferrari in 2007.

"It (F1) is boring ... none of the drivers are interesting," Rossi said. "Raikkonen is not so bad.

"Kimi sounded very boring in interviews but when I heard he goes to lap-dancing clubs I think, ah, maybe he is more interesting than the others."

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