World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi Swap Their F1 and MotoGP Machines for a Historic Event
In a historic moment for both Lewis Hamilton and ENEOS-sponsored Valentino Rossi, the World Champions completed an unprecedented track day as each swapped machinery at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Valentino Rossi drove The Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ – the car that won the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, while Lewis rode the 2019 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1, which weeks earlier had been raced by Valentino at the same circuit.
The significance of the occasion was not lost on either Lewis or Valentino, who have made no secret of their admiration and respect for each other in recent years. Acting as a mentor for the other, the pair were able to complete multiple runs on each other‘s machinery and share insight, learn about each other‘s craft and enjoy a unique experience.
The six-time Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton said: “It‘s awesome to see a legend like Valentino in my car. I‘m excited for him to discover the car for the first time. It reminds me of my first time in a F1 car, it‘s just a different animal.”
Of his time out on track riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 with Rossi Lewis added: “It was so cool to be out on track and see Valentino ahead of me on the same bike.”
As for Valentino, this wasn’t his first time in an F1 car but he certainly enjoyed the experience. “I’m a big fan of Lewis before, but now even more. We had a fantastic day together with the two top classes of motorsports meeting and working together.
“Trying the W08 was a spectacular opportunity for me. I have tried an F1 car before, but much has changed since then. I was most impressed with the handling, as well as with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team, who were great to work with. They were very welcoming and made it easy for me to get familiar with the car.
“At first you get an amazing sensation of speed. The G-forces were not so bad, but it takes some getting used to. Once I got into the rhythm I could really push. It was a great pleasure. I felt like a real F1 driver for a day. I didn‘t want the day to end!
“I also rode the YZR-M1 on track with Lewis. It was a proud moment for the team to share our passion with him. Technically, Valencia is a hard track, and it was windy, so at one point I thought it could be difficult for Lewis, but he was brilliant on the bike and his position on the M1 was great. I really enjoyed sharing this experience with him, and I think he had loads of fun too because he was reluctant to stop riding! I sincerely hope we will have many more experiences like this in the future.”
Also present at the track was Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing.
“It was an exceptional day. To have Lewis and Valentino with us, two sporting icons, at the same time and place, was really amazing. I’m really happy I could be there to witness and enjoy it.
“I was very impressed by Lewis’ performance because how many four-wheel champions could come here and get on an M1 and do themselves proud? It’s very difficult to ride a motorcycle fast on track, and even more challenging and demanding to ride a factory MotoGP bike.
“What stood out to me the most was when he and Valentino were out, really close together, side by side on their M1s. Lewis has said that he’s been a fan of MotoGP and Valentino for years. It was his wish to ride on track together with Valentino and to ride an M1, and he got both wishes at the same time! It was fantastic to see that even a six-time Formula 1 World Champion, who has already achieved so many things, can still realize a dream like this.
“We are also very pleased for Valentino, who had another chance to test himself in an F1 car. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, and we heard very positive feedback from the Mercedes team as well. All in all, I think it was a great, unique event.”