Former F1 team boss David Richards has played down suggestions that Valentino Rossi might one day race in Formula One.
Rossi, the multiple MotoGP champion, flirted earlier this year with a switch to Ferrari but more recently tested a touring car from Germany’s ‘DTM’ series.
This week, the flamboyant Italian touched down in New Zealand ahead of his low-profile World Rally debut.
Rossi’s privately-entered black Impreza is being managed by Prodrive; the outfit behind the factory Subaru team, which is run by the ex-Benetton and BAR-Honda team chief.
David Richards is to take the ‘Prodrive’ name into Formula One in 2008.
“While there’s been all the talk about (Rossi) going to formula one, he’s always said to us that if he was not racing a motorcycle, he wanted to be in rallying,” Richards told the UK motoring magazine Auto Express.
27-year-old Rossi, who embarrassingly crashed into a ditch in the 2002 rally of Wales but impressed last year in the Monza Rally, was quoted as saying: “I don’t know yet if I’m ever going to contest races on four wheels (full time).”
He has a Yamaha contract for MotoGP in 2007.
The London-based Evening Standard newspaper wrote: “In 2008 he will still be only 28 — too old to start a Formula One career maybe, but not for rallying.”