Formula 1 drivers past and present have been paying tribute to MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, who has announced his retirement date.
The nine-time world champion, 42, revealed the news ahead of this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
Rossi will bring down the curtain on an illustrious 25-year career which yielded 115 race victories.
He is the only rider to win the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP world championships.
Speaking at a press conference in Austria, Rossi said: “I have decided to stop at the end of the season. Unfortunately, this will be my last half-season as a MotoGP rider.
“It is a very sad moment because it’s difficult to say and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle.
“Next year, my life will change. But it was great, I’ve enjoyed it very much. It’s been a long, long journey and it was really, really fun, and I have had unforgettable moments with all my guys.”
Alex Albon is among several F1 drivers of recent times who also enjoy a passion for the two-wheeled variety of racing.
The former Red Bull racer tweeted: “I have idolised [Rossi] ever since I was a kid. My kart was #46 and covered in Rossi stickers. He’s continued to be one of my biggest inspirations and I will forever admire what he has achieved in motorsport. Congratulations on an incredible career.”
Racing says goodbye to one of the all-time 🐐s of the motorsport world. 👑
A man who absolutely defined a generation of motorcycle racing with nine world titles, seven of those in @MotoGP! 🏆🤩
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 5, 2021
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi offered a statistical breakdown of what his fellow Italian had achieved.
“423 races, 115 victories, 235 podiums, 9 world championships. But also more than 50 million people standing on the sofa, 2939458010303 hugs, 929884940538 of Rossi is there. One passion that will never end. Thank you for all these emotions, it was a show.”
Pedro de la Rosa added: “He leaves just as he arrived, with a smile. Without tears, true to himself. Thank you very much for everything.”
Damon Hill, meanwhile, kept it nice and succinct: “What a legend. Wow, this really is the end of an era.”
Inevitably, Ferrari were also eager to salute one of their fellow countrymen, who was linked with a switch to F1 with the Scuderia way back in 2004.
Their tribute tweet showed Rossi sitting in a Ferrari and said: “It’s been wonderful watching you perform on race tracks around the world for all these years and it was also fantastic to share days like this together.
“Thanks for all the great moments you have given us and best of luck for whatever you do next!”