Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi opened up on a previous offer to join the Formula 1 grid with Minardi.
The record-holder for most grand prix starts and victories, Rossi is considered by many as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time.
Following his retirement from MotoGP after the 2021 season, the Italian has shifted his focus over to four-wheel racing.
Valentino Rossi snubbed Minardi F1 seat
Now a regular on the GT racing scene, with the goal set to compete in the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rossi had dabbled in car racing before this switch of profession after his MotoGP career, though he very nearly joined the Formula 1 grid long before this.
Rossi completed several Ferrari tests between 2004-08, impressing to the point where even legendary Ferrari figure and seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher was saddened that Rossi did not make the choice to switch to F1.
Rossi has now revealed that after testing the Ferrari in 2004, the opportunity was there to join the F1 grid with iconic backmarker team Minardi, with a view to progressing into Ferrari’s line-up.
But Rossi decided to live with the “curiosity” over what could have been and turned the chance down.
“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,'” said Rossi on Gianluca Gazzoli’s podcast.
“We went to Fiorano to test the car. I was pretty fast and I lapped under the minute – 59’1.
“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.
“I was still 27 years old and I didn’t feel like making this leap because I knew I could win a few more titles and get satisfaction from motorcycling,” he said.
“For me the motorbike has always been the best.
“In the end I did very well, even if the curiosity remained, I don’t know what I could have done…
“But I won many iconic races and two [further] World Championships and I did well like that.”
2005 was Minardi’s final season on the F1 grid, the team rebranded as Toro Rosso for the following season after being sold to Red Bull.