Valentino: I was already a big fan of Lewis but now even more

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Multiple champions and titans of their respective sports, Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi completed an unprecedented track day as each swapped machines at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, in Spain this week.

Valentino Rossi drove The Mercedes W08, a car that won the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport at the hands of Lewis Hamilton, whilst Lewis rode the 2019 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 bike that only weeks earlier had been raced by Valentino at the very 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 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton: “It‘s so awesome to see a legend like Valentino in the car. I‘m excited for him for discovering the car for the first time. Reminds me of my first time in a F1 car. When you see all the team around you, it‘s just a different animal.”

Of his time out on track riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 with Rossi, he added: “It was so cool to be out on track and see Valentino ahead of me on the same bike.”

Valentino summed up his day, “I was already a big fan of Lewis before, but now even more. We had a fantastic day, where the two top classes of motorsports not only met but worked together.

“Trying the W08 was a spectacular opportunity for me. I have tried an F1 car before, but much has changed since then. Sincerely, I was impressed with the car and its 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, demonstrated by how reluctant he was to stop riding! I sincerely hope we will get to have many more experiences like this in the future.”