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The Valentino Rossi/Ferrari try out - Was it serious?


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#1 CornishFellow

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:22

I was just reading that Lewis Hamilton is going to have a run on Rossi's bike and Rossi will drive the Mercedes in return. Obviously those sorts of events are just for show and there have been others over the years. But it took me back to the mid-2000s when Rossi's name (I'd never heard of him [for shame!]) kept coming up in interviews with Ross Brawn or Michael Schumacher about tests in the car at Fiorano with a view to having him race for them. Now that I'm a little more familiar with the Rossi legacy in MotoGP, was this a serious consideration at the time? Seems a risk to have him onboard when Ferrari needed reliable drivers either alongside Schumacher but especially post-Schumacher, and I can't think he would have done better than Kimi and Massa. Without Googling (I tried that, just got a bunch of clickbait 'what if' articles) is anybody more familiar with the goings on at the time?

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#2 Astandahl

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:24

I was just reading that Lewis Hamilton is going to have a run on Rossi's bike and Rossi will drive the Mercedes in return. Obviously those sorts of events are just for show and there have been others over the years. But it took me back to the mid-2000s when Rossi's name (I'd never heard of him [for shame!]) kept coming up in interviews with Ross Brawn or Michael Schumacher about tests in the car at Fiorano with a view to having him race for them. Now that I'm a little more familiar with the Rossi legacy in MotoGP, was this a serious consideration at the time? Seems a risk to have him onboard when Ferrari needed reliable drivers either alongside Schumacher but especially post-Schumacher, and I can't think he would have done better than Kimi and Massa. Without Googling (I tried that, just got a bunch of clickbait 'what if' articles) is anybody more familiar with the goings on at the time?

Yes. He achieved very good lap times actually. I don't know if he would have been able to be at Massa and Kimi level but it was a very good performance.


Edited by Astandahl, 24 November 2019 - 14:24.


#3 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:27

I remember that at some point Rossi actually participated in a lublic test, with various other teams also present. In my recollection he was about 0,5 or so of the pace of the regular Ferrari drivers.

It was quite serious. In the end it seemed Rossi doubted whether he could have find that last few tenths.

#4 Astandahl

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:29

I remember that at some point Rossi actually participated in a lublic test, with various other teams also present. In my recollection he was about 0,5 or so of the pace of the regular Ferrari drivers.

It was quite serious. In the end it seemed Rossi doubted whether he could have find that last few tenths.

Actually Vale wasn't sure if he would have been able to compete for the title in F1 because that was his goal.



#5 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:33

Guys you should really appreciate the sport they are watching. No way he would be even remotely competetive.  It was just a PR stunt. You really think they would spread news that he was slow?


Edited by doc83, 24 November 2019 - 14:34.


#6 Risil

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:33

Actually Vale wasn't sure if he would have been able to compete for the title in F1 because that was his goal.


Comes to the same thing, doesn't it? If he had found the last few tenths to keep pace with with Ferrari's regulars he would've been competing for the title because he would've had a Ferrari.

#7 maximilian

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:36

Serial title-winning Ferrari would not have put a driver in their car who not only has no F1 experience, but practically no open-wheel race car experience, on top of that.  There's rookies, and there's rookies who haven't even driven race cars, and Rossi would have been the latter.  Impossible.  A pure PR stunt for sure.



#8 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:39

Guys you should really appreciate the sport they are watching. No way he would be even remotely competetive. It was just a PR stunt. You really think they would spread news that he was slow?


Why not stick to the facts?

It was an official group test with official timing:

Thursday's third and final day then saw Rossi reduce his best lap time to a 1min 12.362secs - again after 53 laps - which was good enough for 12th on the revised driver line-up. Alonso was again fastest, but Rossi was now within 1.5secs of the Spaniard - and, most impressively, just 0.711secs from Schumacher (the full day three times are shown below).


Granted, he was driving a detuned V10 whereas the regular Ferrari drivers were driving the new V8.

#9 Risil

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:43

Guys you should really appreciate the sport they are watching. No way he would be even remotely competetive.  It was just a PR stunt. You really think they would spread news that he was slow?


I prefer to take at face value the comments from Ferrari engineers and the fact that he had seven tests with the team. Rossi was only 25 in 2004 so he was hardly too old to learn a new skill. And it's not like bike racers have never been competitive when switching to cars. A look through the record books shows two F1 champions and two F2 champions who started out on two wheels (admittedly one of those is Damon Hill who was only a clubbie).

Of course Rossi being competitive at Ferrari would've been a dream for Maranello, FIAT and Marlboro. And I don't think he'd have got as much testing mileage in real Ferrari F1 car if that hadn't been the case. But I think he probably would've been Irvine-fast in a Grand Prix car.

#10 Risil

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:46

Serial title-winning Ferrari would not have put a driver in their car who not only has no F1 experience, but practically no open-wheel race car experience, on top of that.  There's rookies, and there's rookies who haven't even driven race cars, and Rossi would have been the latter.  Impossible.  A pure PR stunt for sure.


That actually rang a bell in my head -- wasn't 2004-2007 a time when lots of paddock people were talking about big teams running three cars, or customer entries running complete cars from Ferrari/McLaren? I think that might be where Rossi would've slotted in. He would've paid for himself, Sato at Super Aguri style.

#11 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:46

Why not stick to the facts?

It was an official group test with official timing:


Granted, he was driving a detuned V10 whereas the regular Ferrari drivers were driving the new V8.

 

First of all 1 sec is huge!

Secondly from the same article "F2004 fitted with a V10 engine limited to reproduce the conditions set out in this year's regulations" which means that his car was significantly different to the V8 powered 2006 spec machines driven by the majority of drivers present."



#12 FLB

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:48

Actually Vale wasn't sure if he would have been able to compete for the title in F1 because that was his goal.

 

To me, that was what proved it was just an ego thing (di Montezemolo's, trying to prove that it was *his* team (Bravi ragazzi!) winning and not Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn or Jean Todt) and nothing serious. If Rossi himself had been serious about F1, he would have done like Nando Aldrighetti, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Eddie Lawson or Jeff Ward and started racing cars in a lower class like GP2.



#13 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:49

I prefer to take at face value the comments from Ferrari engineers and the fact that he had seven tests with the team. Rossi was only 25 in 2004 so he was hardly too old to learn a new skill. And it's not like bike racers have never been competitive when switching to cars. A look through the record books shows two F1 champions and two F2 champions who started out on two wheels (admittedly one of those is Damon Hill who was only a clubbie).

Of course Rossi being competitive at Ferrari would've been a dream for Maranello, FIAT and Marlboro. And I don't think he'd have got as much testing mileage in real Ferrari F1 car if that hadn't been the case. But I think he probably would've been Irvine-fast in a Grand Prix car.

 

Kubica (big F1 talent before the crash) also did a number of tests before his return and what? He is dead slow now.



#14 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:50

First of all 1 sec is huge!
Secondly from the same article "F2004 fitted with a V10 engine limited to reproduce the conditions set out in this year's regulations" which means that his car was significantly different to the V8 powered 2006 spec machines driven by the majority of drivers present."


One second for a rookie with almost no car / single seater experience is HUGE.

Especially those cars - much harder to get within 1 second than the 2019 cars for instance.

People were shocked when Rossi did these things. I remember, because I followed it closely.

#15 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:53

One second for a rookie with almost no car / single seater experience is HUGE.

Especially those cars - much harder to get within 1 second than the 2019 cars for instance.

People were shocked when Rossi did these things. I remember, because I followed it closely.

 

You don't appreciate the sport if you think that someone with 0 single seater experiance can be competivie in F1. Really. Just look at Schumacher and his moto racing. Was his good enough for motoGP? 



#16 Risil

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:53

Kubica (big F1 talent before the crash) also did a number of tests before his return and what? He is dead slow now.

 

Kubica is a different kind of special case! I think he's decent point to bring up though because the gap between him and George Russell is roughly what the reported gap was between Rossi and Schumacher in testing (half to three-quarters of a second). And Kubica's return -- aside from the fact that it's remarkable he's driving with one fully functioning arm -- has been considered a major disappointment. Valentino Rossi does not like being beaten and he wouldn't have put up with being in a Kubica 2019 situation for long.



#17 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:58

You don't appreciate the sport if you think that someone with 0 single seater experiance can be competivie in F1. Really. Just look at Schumacher and his moto racing. Was his good enough for motoGP?


The transition from cars to motorbikes is MUCH bigger than the other way around.

I dont think Rossi could have been a WDC, but he wouldn’t have looked ridiculous in a F1 car.

And yes - I appreciate the sport as I have been following it 25 years.

You were just shouting uninformed things without checking anything, I merely offered a factual correction.

#18 DeKnyff

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 14:59

Serial title-winning Ferrari would not have put a driver in their car who not only has no F1 experience, but practically no open-wheel race car experience, on top of that.  There's rookies, and there's rookies who haven't even driven race cars, and Rossi would have been the latter.  Impossible.  A pure PR stunt for sure.

I don't think that would have applied to Rossi. I have the impression that the reason why Ferrari doesn't usually hire unexperienced drivers is because they want more mature, level headed ones. Not because they believe they are not going to be quick enough. They want drivers who are able to cope with the pressure with comes with the red team at who know how to deal with the management, engineers and media. Rossi was 4xWDC at that time and already a superstar, sure he knew how to behave in such environment.

 

My opinion is that the test was serious, they were looking for a replacement to godlike MS and Rossi would have been a bomb, a driver with a similar status. If he didn't got the job, it was simply because he wasn't quick enough.



#19 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:03

The transition from cars to motorbikes is MUCH bigger than the other way around.

I dont think Rossi could have been a WDC, but he wouldn’t have looked ridiculous in a F1 car.

And yes - I appreciate the sport as I have been following it 25 years.

You were just shouting uninformed things without checking anything, I merely offered a factual correction.

 

You don't if you think a moto rider can successfully switch to F1. It;s like saying that Loeb could switch to MotoGP if he wanted or F1. Absurd. 

Reminds me of Usain Bolt who wanted to play professional football (striker). Fary tailes.  


Edited by doc83, 24 November 2019 - 15:05.


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#20 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:04

You don't if you think a moto rider can successfully switch to F1. It;s like saying that Loeb could switch to MotoGP if he wanted or F1. Absurd.


John Surtees disagrees with you :-).

#21 Touchdown

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:06

You don't if you think a moto rider can successfully switch to F1. It;s like saying that Loeb could switch to MotoGP if he wanted or F1. Absurd. 

Hardly absurd, if Rossi, with almost zero experience, was setting the sort of laptimes he was.

 

You don't think he would have made gains with more time in the car? Now that is absurd.



#22 Ickx

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:12

How much experience of car racing did Max Verstappen or Kimi Räikkönen have when they got a F1 drive?

No reason why it could not have worked well with Rossi. Huge risk Vs revard though, especially for Rossi and just imagine the pressure from the Italian press if he would get a Ferrari ride. Same time, a drive for a non championship contender would not be worth the effort.

#23 doc83

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:15

John Surtees disagrees with you :-).

 

Yes, in the 1960. We had regular collage students wining olympic medals back then. A lot have changed.

 

Hardly absurd, if Rossi, with almost zero experience, was setting the sort of laptimes he was.

 

You don't think he would have made gains with more time in the car? Now that is absurd.

 

But that's the most difficult thing (bridging the gap down). Just look at Vandoorne for example. Could not get close to Alonso. Deficit will always be there. If you guys did race a little in your life you would know that being 1 sec down is not that difficult, being up there is completly different. 



#24 Astandahl

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:17

It was a great marketing move sure but also a REAL test. I knew (my family )  a few Ferrari engineers back then and everyone was really surprised by his  performance. Vale didn't go through because he knew he wasn't probably good enough to compete for the win which again was his only objective.



#25 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 15:21

Yes, in the 1960. We had regular collage students wining olympic medals back then. A lot have changed.


But that's the most difficult thing (bridging the gap down). Just look at Vandoorne for example. Could not get close to Alonso. Deficit will always be there. If you guys did race a little in your life you would know that being 1 sec down is not that difficult, being up there is completly different.


And in 2019 we had a former Ski Jumper winning the Vuelta España and coming second in the Giro d’Italia.

Sure, much has changed, but you do see these rare freaks bridging sports sometimes.

And again - I dint think Rossi would have beaten Massa or Raikkonen, but he could problaby get within 0,3 - 0,5. Competitive enough to not look like an idiot, but not competitive enough for a Ferrari seat on merit.

If the 3rd car idea would have been implemented, he’d likely had gotten the opportunity.

#26 noriaki

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 17:44

John Surtees disagrees with you :-).


There have been top level motorcycle riders switching over from time to time before and after the introduction of wings and it appears as if that was the big turning point where the skillsets required from an F1 driver started to diverge from those required from a motorcyclist.

In the 20's and 30's plenty of the top GP racing names were also handy bike racers themselves (Varzi, Nuvolari, HP Muller et co) and even in the 50's and 60's it wasn't at all unheard of to switch over from two wheels straight to top level four wheelers. Hailwood and Hocking spring to mind.

Whereas of those who made the conversion from top level motorbikes post 70'ies, I think Cecotto sr has been the only one even *remotely* competitive on 4 wheels. Whereas Agostini, Lawson, Stoner have each mostly just filled whatever car racing grids they could get to.

So I dont think Rossi would have been successful. But as for the Loeb reference, now I actually do think he would have been somewhat competitive in F1 in his prime. Already had Le Mans experience and was so impressive in testing that Toro Rosso actually were willing to supply him a car for the 2009 finale, iirc, but it fell through due to super license issues or something. And he was already turning 35 so they wouldnt go out of their way to make it happen.

#27 FLB

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 17:55

 
Whereas of those who made the conversion from top level motorbikes post 70'ies, I think Cecotto sr has been the only one even *remotely* competitive on 4 wheels. Whereas Agostini, Lawson, Stoner have each mostly just filled whatever car racing grids they could get to.
 

Jeff Ward. Motocross legend. IndyCar winner. He got to cars late in his career, which makes him one of the rare 40+ years old IndyCar winners.


Edited by FLB, 24 November 2019 - 17:56.


#28 Joseki

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 18:12

It was serious.

I read an interview with Domenicali a few years ago and he said Ferrari was really testing if Rossi was fast enough to be at least a second driver. Ultimately Rossi didn't want to commit because he didn't feel confident enough.

Edited by Joseki, 24 November 2019 - 18:13.


#29 Requiem84

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 19:22

How many times did Peterhansel win the Dakar rally on a motorcycle before he Started winning the dakar rally in cars?

Or is that not an appreciative question to ask? ;)

#30 Bloggsworth

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 21:36

Serial title-winning Ferrari would not have put a driver in their car who not only has no F1 experience, but practically no open-wheel race car experience, on top of that.  There's rookies, and there's rookies who haven't even driven race cars, and Rossi would have been the latter.  Impossible.  A pure PR stunt for sure.

 

What? You mean like Surtees and Hailwood?



#31 noikeee

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 21:45

How much experience of car racing did Max Verstappen or Kimi Räikkönen have when they got a F1 drive?

They spent their entire childhood and adolescence in karts. The years in which a human is most prepared for learning, absorbing information and creating habits that become second nature.

This is also true of almost every single modern F1 driver.

Edited by noikeee, 24 November 2019 - 21:46.


#32 HP

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 23:56

He certainly needed more practice (as demonstrated by the Rally Master show against Kubica), but Rossi can drive cars (DTM, F1, NASCAR) , and it certainly would have been fascinating to see how he would have measured up had he committed to F1.

 

 

BTW, that's why I consider Rossi still above Mark Marquez.



#33 JeePee

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 09:24

 

BTW, that's why I consider Rossi still above Mark Marquez.

Because Marquez can't drive on 4 wheels?



#34 Kalmake

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 09:39

I believe the engine was tuned and car was weighed so that Rossi produced "competitive" lap times. That's what I would have done as Ferrari.



#35 CoolBreeze

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 09:47

He was fast. But of course it was just marketing & publicity. 



#36 NixxxoN

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 10:11

We are not in the era of John Surtees anymore, you cannot go from bikes to cars and expecto to win a championship.
You need so many years of experience in both worlds so to be really competitive in both, I believe its completely impossible nowadays.

By the way remember that Surtees had much likely the best car and a highly dominant MV Agusta bike (best by far) and that allowed him to win in both worlds.

Edited by NixxxoN, 25 November 2019 - 10:12.


#37 messy

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 10:27

Jeff Ward. Motocross legend. IndyCar winner. He got to cars late in his career, which makes him one of the rare 40+ years old IndyCar winners.

 

And Scottish too. A proper forgotten legend in many ways. 



#38 F1matt

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 12:12

Rossi hired a driver coach to help him, Rob Wilson so he must have been serious. I am not sure how happy Schumacher would have been having such an Italian icon in the second Ferrari. It would have been to nice to see how it would have worked out if he signed. I don't think it would take much to bring anyone up to an acceptable standard, the big test is finding the extra speed to be a threat. 



#39 goldenboy

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 12:12

I don't really buy it. Great marketing for all involved though.

Also, testing times and race craft are different things...

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#40 Atreiu

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 12:17

It was more serious than I thought. The MotoGP jornos I follow and read have stated it more than once. They also say this distraction allowed him to get beat in 2006.

#41 Astandahl

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 12:30

It was more serious than I thought. The MotoGP jornos I follow and read have stated it more than once. They also say this distraction allowed him to get beat in 2006.

Not the real reason. The 2006 season was really strange... HRC made huge steps forward and Vale was really unlucky. First race destroyed by Elias, in Cina he recovered from 13 to 3 but had a  problem with the tyres and so DNF, another DNF at Le Mans when he was 1 with a massive lead over the others and another one at Laguna Seca...Valencia was even more strange with a pole position and no pace in the race. Cursed season.

 

Also Nicky did very well that year (RIP).


Edited by Astandahl, 25 November 2019 - 12:32.


#42 Nemo1965

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 16:10

We are not in the era of John Surtees anymore, you cannot go from bikes to cars and expecto to win a championship.
You need so many years of experience in both worlds so to be really competitive in both, I believe its completely impossible nowadays.

By the way remember that Surtees had much likely the best car and a highly dominant MV Agusta bike (best by far) and that allowed him to win in both worlds.

 

There's this great story about Surtees testing a F1-car at Silverstone and having some difficulty with Stow or Beckets. He called Graham Hilll. 'How do you take that entry?' Hill said: 'Full throttle, absolutely.' The next day Surtees called Hill. Before Hill could say 'hello', Surtees lashed out at him. 'You idiot! I went full throttle into that corner and spun about three-hundred times!' Hill, on the other side, howling with laughter: 'What! You believed me?"


Edited by Nemo1965, 25 November 2019 - 16:12.


#43 TennisUK

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 16:30

I recall it started out as a PR excercise, but he was interested in making a switch and was reasonably quick so they continued and he improved. There were a LOT of tests - so it was certainly not JUST about PR. It was reported as serious by the press at the time too.

 

My recollection is that he looked pretty good - good enough to be a #2 - but probably not good enough to win anything.



#44 Atreiu

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 16:38

Not the real reason. The 2006 season was really strange... HRC made huge steps forward and Vale was really unlucky. First race destroyed by Elias, in Cina he recovered from 13 to 3 but had a  problem with the tyres and so DNF, another DNF at Le Mans when he was 1 with a massive lead over the others and another one at Laguna Seca...Valencia was even more strange with a pole position and no pace in the race. Cursed season.

 

Also Nicky did very well that year (RIP).

 

Nothing personal, but I'll stick with the journos' opinions.



#45 thegamer23

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 17:03

Very serious. 

He did a test in Valencia with other F1 drivers, Schumacher was very impressed by his consistency in lap times. 

Than he did one at Mugello, very fast, some tenths off the record. 

Schumacher's engineer, Luigi Mazzola said he had no doubt he could debut in F1.

According to him he could have been a race winner, but hardly a World Champion, while in MotoGP he had still many years left as a top rider. 

Hence the decision to carry on his MotoGP career. 

 

A good old video about his testing at Mugello, from his entourage point of view!

 


Edited by thegamer23, 25 November 2019 - 17:07.


#46 HeadFirst

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 20:11

I don't really buy it. Great marketing for all involved though.

Also, testing times and race craft are different things...

 

A very accurate assessment. The test indicated that Rossi had potential pace, but could he race? Many of the physical attributes needed to race MotoGP or F1 are similar (eye-hand coordination, reflexes, etc.), the real question is whether the racecraft needed to be competitive in F1 is similar to that of MotoGP. From my point of view (I have raced amateur production bikes), I think learning the tires in F1, would be the biggest challenge. 



#47 Requiem84

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 20:19

Dovi didnt do too bad in his DTM race did he?

#48 dissident

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 21:28

They spent their entire childhood and adolescence in karts. The years in which a human is most prepared for learning, absorbing information and creating habits that become second nature.

This is also true of almost every single modern F1 driver.

 

Rossi has a karting background. 

 

He switched to minimoto later on, but actually started off in karts.



#49 teejay

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 03:39

I thought he was being used a political tool whilst the Michael/Kimi thing played out. 



#50 Beri

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 07:59

Very serious.
He did a test in Valencia with other F1 drivers, Schumacher was very impressed by his consistency in lap times.
Than he did one at Mugello, very fast, some tenths off the record.
Schumacher's engineer, Luigi Mazzola said he had no doubt he could debut in F1.
According to him he could have been a race winner, but hardly a World Champion, while in MotoGP he had still many years left as a top rider.

Hence the decision to carry on his MotoGP career.

A good old video about his testing at Mugello, from his entourage point of view!

https://www.youtube....h?v=SiB7hOn1_O4


Fantastic video. Even with my limited Italian language skills it is still a great piece to watch.