Record-breaking multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has cautioned that he will not risk further injury by returning to racing too quickly after his leg-breaking accident during practice for last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello – and warned his fans not to expect too much of him too soon once he does rejoin the fray.
Rossi has now been released from hospital after being operated on, and has been advised that he will likely have to spend as much as six months on the sidelines recuperating. Even if the FIAT Yamaha star himself is evoking a possible comeback at Brno in the Czech Republic in mid-August – citing his doctor's prognosis as 'very cautious', and meaning he will miss only five further races – he is well aware that the road to recovery is likely to be a long one, and insists he will not be seen on the grid again until he is fully ready.
“The positive thing is that the worst is past and that the two operations went well, so everything is okay,” the Italian revealed. “Now I am expecting a difficult period, in which I have to be aware of the risk of infection and in which I must remain with the leg constantly elevated. Then there will come a second key period, when I will be able to start my rehabilitation and, with support on the leg, will be able to start to walk around with crutches.
“I want to heal the injury; that is the only thing I'm interested in. If I miss four races or six races, it doesn't make any difference. The right time to return could be Brno, but it won't necessarily be like this. I want to thank Professor Buzzi of the CTO Careggi in Florence and all of his staff, because they were brilliant. Fortunately, doing it at Mugello meant I wasn't far from the Careggi and this was very lucky.
“I also want to thank everybody else at the Careggi and all the nurses because they treated me so well, then the staff at the Clinica Mobile and the marshals and officers at the Mugello circuit. Finally, a big 'hello' and particular thanks to all the fans because never, not even for a second, have they let me forget their affection and support. The messages I saw on Sunday on television from the circuit were beautiful.”
Confessing to remembering everything 'perfectly', Rossi went on to acknowledge that it had been entirely of his own making – but he did concede that at least he will now have the opportunity to properly rest his previously injured shoulder too, so that he returns fighting-fit and 'in perfect shape', even if he suggests a return to the top step of the podium may take a little longer.
“I didn't hit my head, I didn't hit anything else,” the 31-year-old Urbino native recounted. “The airbag in my leathers worked very well and my helmet was just slightly scratched. I don't have a single bruise! The problem was that I landed on my leg, and it was stuck under my body. If I had landed on my back it would have been different.
“I had a new tyre and I'd done two laps, then I slowed down because I had [Héctor] Barberá behind me. When I came back onto the racing line [Dani] Pedrosa arrived and I didn't want to cause a problem for him, so I moved again but then when I re-opened the gas, it happened suddenly and unexpectedly. Seven seconds were enough to make the tyre drop temperature dramatically. The error was mine.
“One of the few positive things about this incident [is that] finally I can work on the rehabilitation of my shoulder, in no hurry, without operations and without races. From tomorrow I will restart the exercises, lying on my bed, and I am certain that when I return the shoulder will be completely recovered.
“When I come back I will be in perfect shape, although it won't mean that I can win straightaway. When you return after an enforced break you not only have to think about the body, but also the mind. I won't be able to come back and win immediately.”