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Valentino Rossi test sparks buzz in Formula One

January 27, 2010 | 12:42 pm

Imagine if Peyton Manning took batting practice with the New York Yankees and you can appreciate the buzz surrounding Valentino Rossi's recent test with Ferrari's Formula One team.

Rossi is one of the best motorcycle racers in history. The 30-year-old Italian, nicknamed “The Doctor” for the clinical precision of his riding skills, has nine world championships – including the 2008 and 2009 MotoGP titles – and fans around the globe.

So when he recently tested a Ferrari F1 race car near Barcelona, Spain, the obvious question was whether Rossi – whose contract with his Yamaha motorcycle team ends after this season – might be eying a full-time ride in Formula One.

"Valentino really could get the desire to change sport,” Davide Brivio, his Yamaha team manager, recently told the Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

But Rossi, who tested Formula One cars before and raised the same speculation, discounted the idea.

Rossi said he would be “too old” for Formula One, adding, "I’m fine in my world, which is bikes," according to the website “This is just a diversion, some fun, and I am grateful to everybody for the opportunity.”

Then again, is he really too old to switch? Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is about to return from retirement at age 41. Williams’ Rubens Barrichello is 37, and the BMW Sauber team just named Pedro de la Rosa, 38, as its second driver.

As they say in Italy, “vedremo” (we’ll see).

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi walks through the paddock at Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, where he tested a Ferrari Formula One car Jan. 21. Credit: Lluis Gene / AFP/Getty Images.