Valentino Rossi's recently-announced switch from FIAT Yamaha to Ducati from 2011 has brought the record-breaking MotoGP legend a significant step closer to an eventual future in F1 with Ferrari - that is the view of the Italian's father Graziano.

Following last weekend's Czech Republic outing at Brno, Yamaha and Ducati both finally confirmed what had been arguably the worst-kept secret of the summer [see separate stories here and here], but one far less substantiated rumour that has been doing the rounds for some years now is that 'The Doctor' still harbours a desire - borne from his test outings with the Scuderia - to one day competitively try his hand at F1 too.

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has publicly acknowledged his eagerness to bring Rossi onto the grand prix grid in a third scarlet machine should the opportunity ever present itself.

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Moreover, not only do the Prancing Horse and Ducati share a common sponsor in Marlboro and a joint annual pre-season media get-together at the Italian skiing resort of Madonna di Campiglio, but Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio has also admitted that once the seven-time premier class world champion's two-year contract is up for renewal - at which stage he will be 33 - all options are effectively open.

"Valentino is not yet able to stop with motorcycles," Rossi Snr - a former GP rider and 250cc race-winner himself back in the late 1970s and early 1980s - told Italy's Sky Sport, "but if in three or four years he will get into F1, then what better road than with Ducati? This seems like a big step forward."