Valentino Rossi has paid tribute to motorsport legend John Surtees, who sadly passed away on Friday at the age of 83.

Surtees made history as the only man ever to win Formula One and 500cc Grand Prix World Championships. He also became the first rider to win the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT three times in succession and was victorious on the roads at the Ulster Grand Prix, underlining his remarkable talent and versatility.

In a 2004 interview with, Surtees touted Rossi as the most likely competitor to emulate his incredible feat by one day winning the F1 crown.

"If anybody is going to do it at this time in particular then it is Valentino," Surtees said, "because he is a true racer."

"The main thing is that he needs to realise the ambitions that he has in motorcycling and he also has to change at the right time. If he is going to change, then he needs to do it at a point while he is still improving, he mustn't wait until he perhaps gets slightly over the hill like so many other people have done.

"The important thing is that Rossi will have to show the speed in the car to make it worthwhile. He'll find safety and he'll put experience together, but first and foremost he will have to see that he has the speed because "Speed, in the end, is not something that you find; you've either got it or you haven't."

Rossi, speaking following the conclusion of the opening day of the Qatar MotoGP test on Friday, described Surtees' passing as 'a great shame'.

"It's a great shame because he was the only one to win the Formula One and the 500cc championship, so he did something very special. I am very sorry for him and his family," he said.

"I was lucky, I met him three or four times and he was still in a good shape. Eighty-three - that's many years."

Scott Redding also provided his thoughts on Surtees, hailing his fellow Briton as a 'legend'.

"It's always sad to lose someone like that and I met him a few times at Goodwood; he was a great guy and a great laugh all the time. He was a legend."

Triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who tested a Mercedes F1 car last year, regrets that he did not get the chance to know Surtees personally.

"He was the only one winning the two biggest competitions on wheels. So it's sad news. It's a pity that I didn't know him personally. A big pity. My condolences to his family and friends."

Cal Crutchlow was another name that offered his thoughts on the seven-time grand prix world champion: "I was very privileged during the few times that I met him.

"To do what he did, I think he has a long standing record of grand prix wins, and then Formula 1. Nobody is going to be doing this again, especially a British rider or driver. A really nice guy and we're really sad with what happened."

KTM's Bradley Smith had the chance to meet Surtees through the Racing Steps Foundation, and spoke highly of his presence, that always brought a smile to those around him.

"It's certainly sad news. I went to a few charity events for Henry Surtees. Also, I was involved with the Racing Steps Foundations and the head figure there was John. It was a pleasure to meet him and be in his presence.

"He brought a smile to many peoples' faces and was witty up and into his old age. It's a shame to have lost such a legend but I think there are plenty of good memories to hold onto there."