MotoGP star Valentino Rossi returned to the wheel of a Formula One car for the first time in almost ten years, at Valencia on Monday.

Taking part in a special ride swap with reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, Rossi - who made six Ferrari F1 appearances between 2004 and 2010 - got to try the Englishman's title-winning 2017 Mercedes.

Meanwhile, Hamilton rode the M1 raced by Rossi at Valencia in last month's MotoGP season finale.

While no lap times were released, Monster - which organised the event - stated the pair 'acted as mentors for one another' and 'were able to complete multiple runs on each other’s machinery, and share insights and learnings about each other’s craft'.

“I was a big fan of Lewis’ before but now I am even more," said Rossi, a seven time MotoGP champion. "We had a fantastic day where the two top classes of motorsports not only met but worked together.

“Trying the W08 was a spectacular opportunity for me. I have tried an F1 car before, but much has changed since then. Sincerely, I was impressed with the car and its handling, as well as with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team, who were great to work with. They were very welcoming and made it easy for me to get familiar with the car.

“At first you get an amazing sensation of speed. The G-forces were not so bad, but it takes some getting used to. Once I got into the rhythm I could really push. It was a great pleasure. I felt like a real F1 driver for a day. I didn‘t want the day to end!

“I also rode the YZR-M1 on track with Lewis. It was a proud moment for the team to share our passion with him. Technically, Valencia is a hard track, and it was windy, so at one point I thought it could be difficult for Lewis, but he was brilliant on the bike and his position on the M1 was great.

"I really enjoyed sharing this experience with him, and I think he had loads of fun too, demonstrated by how reluctant he was to stop riding! I sincerely hope we will get to have many more experiences like this in the future.”

“It’s so awesome to see a legend like Valentino in the car," said Hamilton, who has won six F1 titles. "I’m excited for him, for discovering the car for the first time. Reminds me of my first time in a F1 car. When you see all the team around you, it’s just a different animal.” 

Hamilton was riding a 2019 spec Yamaha M1, due to the strict Test Tyre Allocation for MotoGP-spec Michelins, it is thought to have been fitted with commercial Michelin Superbike tyres (which are not too dissimilar from the MotoE tyres).

That would also be the type of rubber was used during the Suzuki MotoGP guest rides for the likes of Michael Dunlop, Josh Waters, Toni Elias and Bradley Ray at the Sepang test in recent years.

While such tyres might sound like a disadvantage, they use softer compounds and also have a quicker warm-up speed than the MotoGP rubber and are therefore better suited for a rookie such as Hamilton in the cool Valencia temperatures.

Potentially, such superbike tyres would be faster than MotoGP rubber over a single 'hot' lap, but due to their softness they would not be able to complete a full grand prix race distance.

Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Racing, added: “It was an exceptional day. To have Lewis together with us and Valentino, two icons of sport at the same time and place, was really amazing. I'm really happy that I could be there to witness it and to enjoy it.

“I was very impressed by Lewis' performance because how many four-wheel champions could come here and get on an M1, go out there, and do themselves proud? It's very difficult to ride a motorcycle fast on track and even more challenging and demanding to ride a factory MotoGP bike.

“What stood out to me the most was the moment when he and Valentino were out, really close together, side by side on their M1s.

"Lewis has said that he's been a fan of MotoGP and Valentino for years. It was his wish to ride on track together with Valentino and to have the experience one day to ride an M1, and he got both wishes at the same time!

"It was fantastic to see that even a six-time Formula 1 World Champion who has already achieved so many things, can still realise a dream at a special occasion like this.

“We are also very pleased for Valentino, who had another chance to test himself in an F1 car. He clearly thoroughly enjoyed himself, and we heard very positive feedback from the Mercedes team as well. All in all, I think it was a great, unique event.”

Valencia was the scene of Rossi's only test alongside regular F1 drivers and teams, in February 2006.

Driving a modified 2004-spec Ferrari, Rossi finished the test twelfth fastest, within 1.5sec of reigning F1 champion Fernando Alonso (Renault) and just 0.711secs from fellow Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher.

Such performances saw Rossi hotly linked with a full-time switch to F1.

But The Doctor ultimately elected to remain in MotoGP and his subsequent Ferrari tests - Mugello in November 2008 and Barcelona in January 2010 - were simply billed as 'fun' and a reward for his recent MotoGP title victories.

Meanwhile, Hamilton's MotoGP outing was the first for an F1 driver since Fernando Alonso did some guest laps on an RC213V at the 2015 Honda Thanks Day.

Prior to that, Michael Schumacher had three test outings on a Ducati Desmosedici between 2005-2008.

The German star impressed by being within five seconds of the then Valencia MotoGP lap record on an 800cc Ducati in November 2007, clocking a 1min 37.9secs during 58 laps. Schumacher elected to run steel rather than carbon brakes.

Schumacher made his MotoGP debut on the factory's 990cc machine during a test at Mugello in October 2005, while his final MotoGP outing was also at Mugello, in April 2008, when he stepped in to replace injured test rider Vittoriano Guareschi and set a best lap around eight seconds from the circuit record.


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