Valentino Rossi has admitted that there was a chance for him to switch from bike racing to cars and join Formula 1 three years ago – but having turned that opportunity down, he concedes it is highly unlikely there will ever now be another.
The MotoGP legend – who last season clinched his eighth grand prix world championship crown, and sixth in the premier class – has tested for Ferrari on a number of occasions over the past few years. After achieving virtually all there is to achieve on bikes, he has confessed to having since had doubts about not having taken on the challenge of competing at the pinnacle of four-wheeled motorsport too, when the option was there for him.
Having lapped within a second of record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher on one of his outings, the Italian got behind the wheel of one of the scarlet machines once more at Mugello just before Christmas, as a present to himself for his latest title success.
“To try the Ferrari again was a great emotion,” the 29-year-old, Urbino-born star acknowledged. “I have always been a great fan of racing cars, not just of rally. I was fast, so I was happy – I am fast enough also in Formula 1!
“In 2006 I decided to stay with the bike and, of course, I still have some doubts, but just to climb inside the red car at Mugello and work with Ferrari was fantastic.”
Having pledged his immediate future to MotoGP, however, and with any future car-related activities likely to revolve around his other love of rallying – following an impressive performance on Wales Rally GB in December, what he hinted could be a precursor to more regular appearances in years to come – Rossi recognises that any opportunity of making it onto the grand prix grid is probably now gone.
“As I said before, I had my chance and I decided to stay with bikes,” the Yamaha ace concluded. “The choice is made and I don't think that there will be another possibility.”