FEBRUARY 3, 2006
A measured view of Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi is creating a lot of headlines in Italy where the Italian press is getting excited about the idea of its motorcycling hero becoming a Formula 1 driver. Michael Schumacher has helpfully provided the quotes to suggest that Rossi has what it takes to be in Formula 1.
"It's completely possible for him," Schumacher told French sports daily L'Equipe. "He has enough talent to get there. When you have this special feeling on two wheels, you can use it perfectly on four wheels."
This is all well and good and it creates a good image for Ferrari but the question to which everyone wants to know the answer is whether or not Rossi is really going to try his hand at Formula 1 or whether it is just a chance for him to have some fun and get some good publicity for the people at Ferrari. The answer is probably that neither he nor Ferrari knows and that the tests planned will give a better understanding of whether the biker can actually get to really competitive times in the same machinery as regular F1 drivers.
The signs are fairly positive at the moment with Rossi on Thursday taking half a second a lap off his best lap of Wednesday. Fitness may be playing a part as well as Rossi did only 50-odd laps one each day while the regular drivers did much more running.
"It was very interesting," Rossi told the media. "I am happy. It felt good and I did not have any special problems. I need more experience driving in the wet. But I did not come here to prove anything. I wnat to increase my knowledge of Formula 1 cars and I would like to thank Ferrari for giving me the chance to do that. Everything went very well, in the dry I learned a lot and the team helped me a lot."
Rossi will now return to motorcycles and hopes to win another World Championship this year with Yamaha. He will do more Ferrari tests in the months ahead but whether he eventually moves from one sport to the other remains to be seen. Formula 1 would like to have a charismatic new star in the business but to be a star in F1 one has to be fast enough and we have yet to see whether Rossi can reach the levels necessary to dare to believe that he could step into a Ferrari F1 car.
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