Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi goes into his 20th season in MotoGP this year with new team Petronas Yamaha.
It marks the first time he changes teams since leaving Ducati for Yamaha in 2012. Speaking to the media after the team's bike presentation, Rossi discussed all things racing, but also his memories of good friend Fausto Gresini.
Gresini passed away at the age of sixty last week after a two month battle against Covid-19, and Rossi spoke about his sadness of hearing the news.
"About Fausto it’s a very sad story. Also, a story that is a bad feeling for everybody. In the end Fausto was in a good shape, with 60 years old and he dies from the Covid," said Rossi.
"Everybody understands you can die from Covid, even if you are ok [before the illness]. For me personally, I know Fausto from when I was very young."
After making his debut in the Grand Prix paddock in 1996, Rossi has been around for a large part of Gresini's career.
The Italian spoke about the great memories of watching him race.
"When he was still a rider, I remember when he fight with Capirossi, because I follow all the races. Because Graziano [Rossi] is a former rider and I know all the riders, so I know also Fausto," said the 42 year-old.
"After we were very strong rivals [as a team owner]. We fight against him in 250 when he was with Capirossi in 99, and also we fight for the MotoGP championship in 2003, 2004 and 2005 with Sete [Gibernau], and also in 2005 and 2006 with [Marco] Melandri.
"So, we were strong rivals. I think Fausto is a strong point in the paddock for the Italians. Also, because he is similar to me with the Academy and has a Moto3 team.
In his latter years in the paddock as a team manager, Gresini enjoyed great success in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, with moments such as Jorge Martin winning the Moto3 championship.
Rossi who has managed young riders himself with the VR46 academy said: "He grows up young riders in Moto2 and MotoGP. Also, our team is 15km from his team. We always speak about that. It’s very bad that we don’t have Fausto anymore. He’s an important image for the paddock."