Valentino Rossi 'would be the greatest thing ever for F1' were he to actually follow through on his repeated testing promise and make the switch from two wheels to four one day, reckons Steve Parrish – but the former British 500cc Champion doubts 'The Doctor' will want to swap one high-pressure environment for another when he does ultimately bring the curtain down on his record-breaking motorcycling career.
Rossi has indulged his curiosity for 'the other side' by testing for Ferrari on a number of occasions in recent years, but his latest outing – at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya last month – has truly set tongues wagging, after the Urbino native lapped barely 1.2 seconds shy of the lap record around the Spanish track in a year-old F2008, and was hailed by the Scuderia's
president Luca di Montezemolo as 'a potential world champion' in F1 [see separate story – click here
Opinion has since raged about whether or not Rossi – one of the most successful competitors in premier class history, with no fewer than nine riders' crowns, 103 race victories and 164 podium finishes to his name across MotoGP, 500cc, 250cc and 125cc – is seriously weighing up the viability of changing disciplines once his current FIAT Yamaha contract expires at the end of the forthcoming campaign. Whilst persistently denying any intention to do so, those denials have not always been entirely convincing.
What's more, having only just turned 31, time is clearly on Rossi's side were he to decide – in the event of third cars being allowed in F1 by governing body the FIA – to go ahead and form an all-Italian 'dream team' at Ferrari. Though Parrish well recognises that such a development would be a massive coup for the top flight, however, he is not so sure it will ever materialise.
“I thought the whole Michael Schumacher thing was just a big publicity stunt, and they proved me completely wrong, but I don't know,” Barry Sheene's former team-mate turned BBC commentator told Crash.net Radio
. “I can't see Valentino wanting to go out there and re-learn something at the age that he'll then be when that happens, if it does happen.
“I think he'll want to get out of a high-pressure world – that's what I'd want – and have some time to spend his millions I would have thought, and go rallying which is something that has mechanical grip that I'm sure he can adapt to much easier than Formula 1. Formula 1 is slightly different to driving any other formula, and most of the guys have started off in go-kart racing and Formula 3, with aerodynamics and wings and everything else you go through.
“He's clearly very fast in one, as he's proven by his lap times, and it would be the greatest thing ever for Formula 1 but I'd be really annoyed, because they've got too much going on there already, with Schumacher coming back and Jenson Button winning the world championship – I want to keep Valentino Rossi
[in MotoGP] for as long as we can.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE