F1 Champ Lewis Hamilton and MotoGP Legend Valentino Rossi Swap Rides for a Day
Both machines can go over 220 mph and cost millions of dollars to maintain.
A machinery swap for the history books took place earlier this week between six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi at the Circuit Ricardo Tomo in Valencia, Spain. The stunt was organized by Monster Energy and saw the Brit pilot Rossi's Yamaha racing motorcycle, while the famous Italian got behind the wheel of Hamilton's Mercedes-AMG F1 car.
Both racers have shown interest in the respective sports in the past, with Hamilton being a big motorcycle fan and owning multiple sports bikes and Rossi a self-proclaimed car nut and F1 aficionado. According to Yamaha, the duo has made no secret their admiration and respect for each other in recent years, something which led them to "mentor each other" on their specific racing disciplines.
“It‘s so awesome to see a legend like Valentino in the car," said Hamilton. "I‘m excited for him for discovering the car for the first time. Reminds me of my first time in an F1 car. When you see all the team around you, it‘s just a different animal.”
The Spanish track's challenging layout was an interesting choice for said event, especially given the fact that both racers are somewhat foreign to the machinery at hand. On one end, the Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ car that won the 2017 F1 championship generates 1,000 horsepower and a brutal amount of downforce through the corners. The 2019 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1, on the other hand, squeezes 240 horsepower out of its 1000 cc, liquid-cooled in-line four-cylinder engine. Now, 240 hp may not sound like a whole lot on paper, but for a motorcycle that weighs only 345 pounds and runs on slick tires, it's a staggering amount of power.
“Trying the W08 was a spectacular opportunity for me," said Rossi. "I have tried an F1 car before, but much has changed since then. Sincerely, I was impressed with the car and its handling. 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!"
While most of the day was spent with Hamilton riding on two wheels and Rossi on four, there was a special outing that saw both racers hop on identical motorcycles and go out for a few laps. The duo's performance or lap times weren't revealed, given the fact that this was nothing but a recreational stunt. Given Hamilton and Rossi's enormous appetite for competition, however, we're sure that someone at some point glanced at a telemetry chart or timing sheet.
Despite Hamilton being a motorcycle fan, this was his first outing in a proper MotoGP racing motorcycle, but the same can't be said about Rossi and an F1 car. The glamorous Italian has had multiple outings in Formula 1 cars throughout his career, testing for Ferrari in multiple occasions across the globe. In fact, there were even rumors in the early 2000s that Rossi was considered for an F1 seat with the Scuderia. But as we're now aware of, those rumors never came to fruition.