Valentino Rossi says it is "difficult" to imagine himself racing in Formula 1, despite his strong performance in his most recent Ferrari test having raised renewed speculation about a potential switch to car racing.
The MotoGP champion had seriously considered moving to F1 with Ferrari following a series of tests in 2006, but ultimately decided to remain in motorcycle racing. He has subsequently continued to test for Ferrari on occasion, albeit always insisting that the outings were purely for his own entertainment.
However, a very competitive lap time at Catalunya when he drove a 2008 Ferrari last month, plus Ferrari's suggestions that it would be happy to run him in a third car if the F1 rules permitted additional entries, encouraged new talk of Rossi moving to F1. Yamaha team boss Davide Brivio even said that he saw Ferrari as his main rival in the quest to sign Rossi after 2010. But Rossi played down the F1 speculation as he launched the new Yamaha MotoGP bike today.
"I had the chance to drive the Ferrari F1 car in Barcelona. It was great, I had fun and it was a very good test, with good lap times, but I think that it will be very difficult to see me driving in Formula 1," he said.
Brivio also suggested that Rossi joining Ferrari in F1 would create such excitement and anticipation that the public could underestimate the challenge involved in switching disciplines and become impatient with the Italian.
"As for a possible challenge in Ferrari, I think he has good potential but he would probably need some time to learn and to get experienced," Brivio said. "Experience is not something you can buy. I don't know if the public and the media have the patience to wait for him."
But Brivio joked that from a fan's perspective he could definitely understand the attraction of a Rossi-Ferrari deal.
"I have a little of a fight inside, because I am a Yamaha team manager, but I am also a big Ferrari F1 fan," Brivio said. "I would like to have two Valentino Rossis, one in Yamaha and one in Ferrari.
"Of course, I hope that he continues to race with us and remain in our team because I love to work with him. As a sportsman and as a Ferrari fan it would be very interesting [to see Rossi in an F1 Ferrari], but I hope he will race in motorcycles and that he will just test Ferraris from time to time."