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."

shares
comments
Red Bull Ask Michelin to Supply Minardi
Previous article

Red Bull Ask Michelin to Supply Minardi

Next article

Briatore: Alonso Better than Raikkonen

Briatore: Alonso Better than Raikkonen
The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream Plus

The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream

OPINION: The Formula 1 grid's wait for a new American driver looks set to continue into 2023 as the few remaining places up for grabs - most notably at McLaren - look set to go elsewhere. This is despite the Woking outfit giving tests to IndyCar aces recently, showing that the Stateside single-seater series still has some way to go to being seen as a viable feeder option for F1

Formula 1
Aug 17, 2022
How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge Plus

How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge

While creating a car that is woefully off the pace is a nightmare scenario for any team, it inadvertently generates the test any engineering department would relish: to turn it into a winner. As Mercedes takes on that challenge in Formula 1 this season, McLaren’s former head of vehicle engineering reveals how the team pulled of the feat in 2009 with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Aug 15, 2022
The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Plus

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate 
and devoid of the usual
 racing driver airs and graces,
 Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Plus

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022