Valentino Rossi has revealed he was given the opportunity to make a shock switch to Formula 1 with a Ferrari-endorsed race seat for the 2005 F1 season.
The nine-time Grand Prix World Champion says there was the chance for him to join the Minardi team for 2005 ahead of a possible switch to Ferrari in future.
The offer came in the wake of Rossi impressing at wheel of a Ferrari F1 car during a handful of closely-monitored test sessions in 2004 that left a strong impression that the two-wheel star was capable of making the unprecedented move to four wheels.
“It was true in the sense that, in 2004 when I won with Yamaha, Stefano Domenicali called me and he said ‘I have to let you test the car’,” Rossi told the Gianluca Gazzoli Podcast, according to Crash.net.
“We went to Fiorano to test the car. I was pretty fast and I lapped under the minute - 59’1,” he recalls. “I remember that the mechanics were betting on whether I would lap above or below one minute and, in the end, I won.
“Then after those tests I went to Mugello. I also did a real test in Valencia. And there I had to choose. If I had said yes I would have raced with Minardi, the B team.
“And then if I had gone fast enough the goal and the path would have been to race with Ferrari.”
Had Rossi gone ahead and negotiated a deal to join Minardi for the 2005 F1 season, it had the potential to significantly change the course of the storied Italian team’s future.
Indeed, Rossi’s involvement would have likely brought both attention and financing to the cash-strapped backmarkers, enough to help it survive beyond the 2005 season when it was ultimately acquired by Red Bull to form its ‘Toro Rosso’ B team.
Also dabbling in rallying with a handful of guest outings in the World Rally Championship, Rossi joined the GT World Challenge after bringing his MotoGP career to a conclusion at the end of the 2021 season