Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta insists that he is no wiser than anybody else as to whether record-breaking multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi will ultimately be swayed sufficiently by his test outings for Ferrari as to be tempted over to F1 once he hangs up his motorcycling helmet – but he does contend that the Scuderia's
keen interest in the FIAT Yamaha star is a ringing endorsement of the calibre of rides in the premier class.
Rossi has tested for Ferrari on several occasions in recent years, but his particularly impressive lap times on his latest appearance in scarlet overalls around the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona last month set tongues wagging more than ever before, particularly given the repeated statements of both Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali that they would welcome the legalisation of third cars in F1, in which case 'The Doctor' would be an ideal – and patently extremely popular – candidate.
Opinion is generally divided about whether a 'second career' of sorts on four wheels is genuinely a viable possibility for the most successful rider of modern times – and Ezpeleta could shed no light on the matter, save to say that gaining attention from F1 can only be good for the profile of MotoGP.
“Many people have asked this question about Valentino,” the Spanish head of the series' commercial rights-holder told Crash.net Radio
. “I have a lot of respect for Valentino; he has been fantastic for us and he has been an incredible asset to the championship. One day he will retire, and if when he decides to do so it is because he is going to Ferrari or because he is going home, for us it will be the same.
“I think it's a measure of the popularity of MotoGP that as far as I know, Ferrari has never offered a [Formula 1] test to a rider from any of the other [motorcycling] categories. That shows that MotoGP is appreciated so much by Formula 1 people that they consider it possible for MotoGP riders to also be good drivers. It has been talked about many times, but I think Valentino will be in MotoGP until he no longer enjoys racing there, and the rest we can do nothing about.
“[Regarding 2010], I'm sure the championship will be amazing. Last year was very good, though we had some crashes in the middle of the season for some of the contenders and the health problems for Casey. I think [Ben] Spies will be one of the young people to come in and challenge the others. I don't think he has ever raced at Sepang before, and he did very well at the test.”
As to one of the returnees to the 2010 calendar – Silverstone, which has not welcomed the pinnacle of international motorcycle racing since 1986 – Ezpeleta was similarly effusive, though he remained at pains to stress that the decision to switch circuits for the forthcoming campaign had already been made prior to the well-documented Donington Park débâcle
“We took the decision to go to Silverstone before Donington had the problems that they did,” he explained. “We decided to go with Silverstone, because when they approached us the project they had to improve the circuit and to work together to increase the popularity of MotoGP in the UK looked very good. We are so pleased to be here; we spent some very good years at Donington, but now it's the time for Silverstone.”
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