Valentino Rossi has returned to the cockpit of a Ferrari Formula 1 car for further testing. The Italian Moto GP Champion completed 40 laps of Fiorano on Wednesday, and then moved to Mugello for a further two more days.
As in previous tests Ferrari were reluctant to release any official lap times, however Gazzetta dello Sport suggests Rossi set a best time of 57 seconds at Ferrari’s private test track (Fiorano) which is only 1.1s adrift of Michael Schumacher’s outright track record, and in a 44 lap session at Mugello set a benchmark of 1m23.2s which compares favourably with Schumacher’s best of 1m18.7s, set in this years F2005. Rossi has of course lapped Mugello before, having won the last four Moto GP races there, but the circuit is much more technical than Fiorano, including several fast power corners, where Rossi was still unable to utilize the downforce generated by last years F2004 model, which makes his times even more impressive.
Insiders have said that Rossi is already on level terms with Ferrari’s regular drivers in some areas but is not yet comfortable getting the best out of the car, but it can’t be long, as Rossi has already tested for Ferrari twice this year – in April and August. In the past several drivers have made the change from two to four wheels. John Surtees won championships with both, and other notable names include Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, and Johnny Cecotto, even the likes of Barry Sheene tested both Surtees and Arrows cars in private sessions.
The cross over between bike and car racing is getting ever stronger. One time Arrows and Stewart designer Alan Jenkins had a huge input into the Ducati Moto GP team, the Foggy Petronas FP1 Superbike has an engine that is basically three cylinders from a Ferrari GP engine, and Cosworth has done considerable work for Aprilia, and many current stars from both F1 and Moto GP have been taking an interest in each others disciplines.
Even though Rossi has repeatedly denied he has a testing contract with Ferrari, the evidence suggests both parties are keen to pursue the possibilities further, and this current test takes it all beyond curiosity, there is some serious thinking going on.
Daily F1 News