Date published: December 20 2019
Mercedes’ motorsports strategy director James Vowles says he was “very impressed” with Valentino Rossi’s “meticulous” approach when driving the W08 in Valencia.
As part of a swap between seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi and six-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, both icons got the chance to swap into each other’s worlds.
Rossi would be given the chance to drive Mercedes’ 2017 title-winning car, while Hamilton got a taste of one of Rossi’s 2019 Yamahas in Valencia.
It was the Italian’s first F1 test since 2010, but Sky Sports F1 reported that Rossi set a fastest time 1.5s slower than Hamilton’s, although no official times were recorded.
Rossi certainly earned some admirers in the Mercedes garage though, one of them being Vowles who praised his “meticulous” approach to the test.
“Valentino’s approach was very meticulous,” he is quoted by Crash.net.
“He got the fundamentals right first in terms of getting the car to where he wanted it to be on track and controlling it, and then just intuitively braking later and carrying more speed into the corner, almost like I imagine he does with a MotoGP bike, and it’s very impressive to watch.
“It is really the sign of a true master that he’s not out of control and progressively finding performance. Throughout the day, he had areas of strengths. One of them was braking late and carrying speed into the corner, he’s really good at that.
“Give him another day or two in the car, and he will then be on top of the fundamentals plus the tuning of all of that.
“There is a lot of performance to come. In slow-speed corners, as in the exits onto the start-finish straight, there he was very good. Where he was a little bit behind Lewis – and it doesn’t surprise me too much – is high speed [corners].”
Hamilton reportedly set a fastest time 4s down on Rossi’s best – seven-time F1 champ Michael Schumacher in comparison lapped within five seconds of the then Valencia MotoGP record whilst riding an 800cc Ducati in November 2007.
Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis was pleased with what he saw from Hamilton, saying the Briton “did himself proud”.
“I was very impressed by Lewis’ performance,” he said.
“Because how many champions of cars could come here and get on an M1, go out there and do themselves proud?
“The techniques of driving the car and riding the bike are so different but obviously the human skillset of being able to deal with racing and speed, lines and reactions and so forth is common so it’s fantastic to watch.”