OCTOBER 14, 2003
Rossi to test for Ferrari?
There was a time when all the great motor racing champions came from motorcycle racing. In the 1920s, for example, Tazio Nuvolari and Achille Varzi were both great riders before becoming great drivers and in the 1950s and 1960s the sport also had the likes of Jean Behra and John Surtees, the latter being only man to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels. In the 1970s Mike Hailwood became a top flight F1 driver while a few years later Johnny Cecotto's hopes of doing the same ended with a huge crash at Brands Hatch which put the Venezuelan out of F1. Since then there has been almost no crossover because of the demands of each sport. Several motorcycle racers have tried F1 cars but none have been very serious.
Valentino Rossi may be different. He is still only 24 and has just completed three consecutive motorcycle World Championships (a total of five includes the 125cc in 1997 and 250cc in 1999). He says he would like to race cars one day and Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo, playing the role of a benevolent captain of industry, says that he would happily give Rossi a serious test in a Ferrari F1 car.
One of the reasons for this is that in the modern era Italy has never had a World Champion in F1 and is still looking for a man with the necessary mental attitude. Italians have often been fast but few have had the necessary reserve to be consistently able to win in F1. Riccardo Patrese never managed to learn it while Michele Alboreto never had the car he needed. Both came close.
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