MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi appears to have shut the door on switching to Formula 1 once and for all, admitting his chances of ever making the move have probably past.
The Italian was heavily linked to a Ferrari seat for 2007 after impressing during several tests for the Maranello squad at the start of the previous year, but committed his future to two wheels shortly afterwards and is contracted to remain with his Yamaha bike team until at least the end of 2010.
However, this didn’t stop some of the speculation resurfacing when he tested for Ferrari again last November despite both sides stressing the latest two-day outing was “purely for fun”.
Now Rossi, who turns 30 later this month, recognises the opportunity to make what would have been a hugely high-profile switch has now gone.
“I had my chance and I decided to stay with bikes,” he told the Yamaha MotoGP team website.
“The choice is made and I don’t think that there will be another possibility.”
At his most recent F1 test for the world champion team Rossi set a time in the F2008 just 1.5s slower than Kimi Raikkonen’s best effort at the Tuscan track earlier in the year.
Looking back at his November outing at Mugello, Rossi admits that while he sometimes wonders whether he made the right choice in turning down an F1 switch, he was still delighted to get another chance to drive a Ferrari.
“To try the Ferrari again was a great emotion,” he said.
“I have always been a great fan of racing cars, not just of rally.
“I was fast, so I was happy; I am fast enough also in Formula 1!
“In 2006 I decided to stay with the bike and, of course, I still have some doubts, but just to climb inside the red car at Mugello and work with Ferrari was fantastic.”
But while he appears to have ruled out ever racing in F1, he admits a future career in rallying could be on his longer-term agenda.
“I have always loved rally, ever since I was little,” he added.
“It is one of my great passions and it is great to do one when I have the time and the chance.
“I always enjoy it a lot and probably, when I have given up the bikes and when I have the chance to improve and I have more time, I will do more…but it’s not a close future, because I still want to race with the bike for a few more years!”