MotoGP ace, and nine-time world champ, Valentino Rossi is being given yet another opportunity to test a Ferrari Formula 1 car. Ferrari and Rossi have maintained an ongoing flirtation for several years, and there has been periodic speculation that one day Rossi would hang up his leathers in favor of the livery of the Scuderia.
Rossi turns 31 this year, and while he is hardly a rookie in motorsport, he would certainly be the oldest rookie to enter Formula 1 for quite some time, given that nowadays many of the sport’s youngsters find their way to the grid before they’re old enough to vote. And some paddock prophets have speculated that, while Rossi has demonstrated undeniable genius on two wheels, and has been quick on four, at this stage in his career he would face a stiff challenge in adapting his body to the demands of Formula 1. A driver’s neck muscles, in particular, come under enormous strain, and even seasoned F1 drivers can struggle with this aspect of their fitness.
Rossi has tested for Ferrari before, and posted impressive times, such that the Ferrari brass have seriously considered adding him to their roster of pilots. However, considering that they currently have Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa under contract, there would seem to be no room for Rossi unless the rules were revised to allow teams to field three cars, rather than the mandated two.
While Ferrari and Fiat CEO Luca di Montezemolo has been lobbying the FIA for just such a change, it seems unlikely to happen, as the FIA has not supported the idea, and many of the smaller and mid-sized teams would likely vote against it, as the extra cars might result in constructors’ points dilution. Constructors’ points translate into cash payouts at the end of each season.
In preparation for his test at Catalunya next Wednesday and Thursday, yesterday Rossi worked with Ferrari’s engineers in the team’s brand new simulator, at the factory in Maranello. In an era of strict on track tessting bans, the better funded F1 teams are now building elaborate simulators that are able to replicate virtually every aspect of the F1 driving experience, save for lateral G-force loading. With sophisticated software, and ultra-fast computers, the simulators can be used to collect data for various suspension and wing setups, as well different tire configurations. While it’s certainly not a replacement for on-track testing, it’s considered to be the next best thing.
Even though Rossi isn’t an active F1 pilot, the team is subject to the standard testing limitations currently in effect. As the test won’t be run during the open testing window, Rossi will be forced to run a car that’s at least two years old. He’ll be driving a 2008 Ferrari at Catalunya.
(Image source: ferrariworld)