Rossi beats 2009 fastest lap at Barcelona

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The Ferrari team cheer Rossi's performance in testing
The Ferrari team cheer Rossi's performance in testing

Ferrari have confirmed Valentino Rossi lapped quicker than any of the F1 cars during last year’s race during his test in an F2008 today.

He was 0.8s quicker than the best lap set by Rubens Barrichello during the 2009 Grand Prix.

But an F1 car with 2008 levels of downforce and running slick tyres (even GP2 ones) should be quicker than a 2009-specification car – so should we be excited about Rossi’s lap?

Here’s how Rossi’s time compared to recent F1 laps at the track:

Private Ferrari test, January 2010Valentino Rossi1’21.900*
Spanish Grand Prix, May 2009Rubens Barrichello1’22.762
Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2009Rubens Barrichello1’19.954
Spanish Grand Prix, May 2008Kimi R??ikk??nen1’21.670*
Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2008Felipe Massa1’20.584*

*Lap time set in a Ferrari F2008

From the picture above it’s clear Ferrari are pretty happy with Rossi’s lap time. But trying to make an objective call on how good it was is difficult because there are important things we don’t know.

Ferrari pointed out Rossi’s time was better than Barrichello’s during last year’s Grand Prix at Spain. But was Rossi running a race stint simulation, or a one-lap low-fuel run?

We don’t even know if Ferrari were running the F2008 in a race-legal specification – it could have been ballast-free and under the minimum weight limit. But let’s give them credit that they wouldn’t waste time doing something like that just to bolster his ego.

There are also important technical differences between the 2008 and 2009 cars to consider. The F2008 has higher levels of downforce than the BGP 001. And Ferrari were running the car on grippier slick tyres. It’s difficult to put a time-per-lap estimate on the advantage this gave Rossi, but we’re surely looking at whole seconds.

To give Rossi credit, he set the time at a test session where his was the only car, so the track won’t have benefitted from being rubbered-in as it would in the late stages of a Grand Prix.

And most importantly, he is not a full-time Grand Prix driver – he plies his trade in an entirely different discipline of motor racing.

Luca Baldisseri pointed out that Rossi continued to better his times during his two days and reckons there is more to come from the eight-times Moto GP champion:

We tried different set ups and he improved a lot: this means that the driver learns quickly and has room for improvement.
Luca Baldisseri

Regardless of how well he goes in these occasional tests it seems Rossi is not looking beyond motorbike racing for anything other than the odd race at the moment. A pity, because there’s room for a driver with his personality and massive popularity in F1.

We should get a better guide for how fast his time was when Felipe Massa takes to the track in the same setup tomorrow. I hope it stays dry…

See pictures and video from Rossi’s test here: Massa joins Rossi at Ferrari?s Barcelona test (Video and pictures)

Image (C) Ferrari spa

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Rossi beats 2009 fastest lap at Barcelona”

  1. give the man some credit though for a guy who spends more of his time on 2 wheels than 4 … an impressive feat no doubht even if it was on fuel fumes!

    1. you are forgetting that the track is completly out of rubber it has rained a lot and all the time so its hard to put some rubber on the track and that should make a big difference

  2. thats a good effort for a guy, who hardly ever drives f1 cars,

    but you have too look at tyre compounds and track temp aswell, but to say he beat the 2009 time (which he did) doesnt really mean anything (completly different cars). If he beat the 2008 time, then id be blown away

    1. even if he beat 2008 time, it wouldn’t mean anything. you don’t know even if the car is legal or not. maybe F1 Clienti don’t want to have a wrecked car (and Ferrari like some publicity) so they adjusted grip levels higher than FIA allowed in 2008 official runs, besides, 2008 time was set on grooved tyres, which are much slower than gp2 slicks. i believe Schumacher did a comparrison run with his Ferrari back in 2005 or 2006 and his times were some 2 seconds faster. if you fuel correct Buttons’ pole lap from last year, Rossi was 2,8 seconds off his pace, so even if you give him 1 second bonus due to tires (despite more grip fom 2008 car and probably the GP2 tires are faster) he’s still 1,8 seconds off pace. That’s a lot, considering he drives a formula 1 car every year for a couple days.

      1. “…so they adjusted grip levels higher than FIA allowed in 2008 official runs,”

        Totally. I bet they turned the grip dial all the way up to 11 :)

        But in all serious you are right that its irrelevant. I bet he had fun though!

      2. It’s winter in Spain. The track has got to be extremely cold for driving a race car, thus offering very little grip.

    2. I’ve read 40 comments: lot’s of controversy and many relevant points. Rossi’s F1 experience is practically nil. I think if you look at how far off Kimi Badoer & Fisichella were this year we should not get too bogged down in the details. Looking at the big picture this is a stunning performance. There has only ever been one 2 & 4 wheel champion in John Surtees. It is not impossible that Rossi could be the second. I was eagerly anticipating Massa’s times which might have provided a better benchmark (same car same conditions)but so far nothing has been said.

  3. I still dont see what the point is? no other teams are doing this with thier drivers (especially rookies)

    1. Its Marketing. Associating the Ferrari Brand with one of the top Moto GP riders, and doing it in a way it is guaranteed to make the papers.

      1. Got to agree with you AG, just another way of getting headlines for F1, and Ferrari, and reminding us all that Rossi continues to have fun, lucky boy!!

  4. From what I’ve read of his previous tests with Ferrari he’s always had respectable lap times.

  5. I think it is a great time and he should be proud of it, that’s why it is very interesting to see what Massa will do tomorrow with the same car on the same track.

    In my opinion Massa should be at least 0,5 second faster but 1 second would convince me fully that the old Massa is back

  6. The main variable for me would have to be the tyres. I presume that even though the tyres in 2008 were grooved they would still be quicker then GP2 ones? Even so to go into a car he has never driven in before, had just under two days of running due to the weather, on what seemed to be a fairly green circuit and post a time just under .3s slower than the fastest race time in 2008 is remarkable in my opionion.

    Would absolutely love to see him in an F1 race but i doubt highly that it will ever happen. Maybe Ferrari could do what Torro Rosso were planning to do with Loeb in Abu Dhabi if the titles have all been decided but i cant see Alonso or Massa giving up their seat for him

  7. Great outing by Valention Rossi! I would absolutely love to see him in a Ferrari! He seems to enjoy his tests with Ferrari, and I think he would be a great success! However I am very surprised that Ducati has not been able to acquire his services. Maybe something in the future? I am also very curious to see what Massas will do on his runs in the car. I think that will be more of a true test of how well Valentino really did.

  8. Hey Keith, is it just here or we are still in january? :)

    “Private Ferrari test, February 2010”

    1. Silly mistake – fixed it, thanks.

  9. This might be a dumb question, but why are Rossi’s lap times around Mugello being compared to Barichello’s Spanish GP lap times, which would be from Catalyuna if my memory serves me correctly?

    1. Nevermind, I am dumb.

      I thought that the Ferrari Clienti program ran all of their private tests around Mugello or Fiorano.

  10. a lot of small variables that we are unkown in order to fully gauge just how good that lap was: there had been rain, the track would dirty and there was no rubber put down… but then he could have had low fuel, no ballast, the tyres etc.

    But either way, he is talent personified and a true legend.

  11. I wonder whether he’s not interested in full-time F1 drive unless he knows he’s in with a shout of actually winning the championship. Let’s face it, it would be a dream come true for Rossi to drive a season with Ferrari and get the championship, for everyone (I’d hope). I think he knows that he’s still got a MotoGP championship or two in him, and with some real competition, to make them all the more sweet if he gets them.

    Still, Felipe needs to get the championship he duly deserved in 2008 and I wouldn’t want to see either of the current Ferrari drivers dropped for the chance of a dream. Although, I do believe that even after his current contract ends, Rossi could still be a force to be reckoned with if he did a full F1 season with enough pre-season testing. F1 needs his talent and personality. Just for a second, imagine a beautiful, red, F1 car, with ‘The Doctor’ on the rear wing! Mmmmmm….

    1. Further to this, I wonder how much persuasion the FIA would require to let me race with no. 46?

      1. I don’t know about you – but I bet if Rossi asked for it they’d do it.

    2. yep F1 could do with Rossi, he really would bring something special to it. And i think he would be good enough as well if we had the old days of testing. He wants to beat Giacomo Agostini’s record but we can dream…

  12. Nothing to celebrate.

  13. I think the only conclusion we can draw from this is that Massa now needs to crush this lap-time by a significant margin in order to announce his arrival back in the sport.

    If Massa’s times are released tomorrow, I think it is the first time we will have a timed lap from Massa since his accident. So far, Ferrari have not released any times of the earlier test. Plus, Massa’s test today was not pre-planned. Something tells me, all is not hunky-dory.

  14. It would be great to have Rossi in F1. The only character we have in F1 that can match Rossi’s is Vettel. Both are true racers…even if they were give a broom stick, they’d probably have a go!

    1. Vettel couldn’t be farther from Rossi if they were at opposite ends of the universe. This kid is unproven, if he doesn’t set it alight this year then serious questions need to be asked, he had the fastest car for most of last season.

  15. While it’s just an OK time for an experienced F1 hand, let’s remember Rossi isn’t an F1 regular – not even close.

    Let’s ignore the 2009 time, he wasn’t that far behind Ferrari’s FLap in the 2008 race in the same car.

    I doubt that Corse Cliente changed the car that much either since 2008, so this is probably still pretty close to the race-spec F2008. The only question here is of fuel.

    It’s probably already too late for Rossi to move to F1, due to his age. But let’s not forget, his contract with Yamaha is only up to this year…

  16. The Dr. is in. I have to say I have seen a few MotoGp and this guy is good and I am not gonna lie it would be so cool to see the a 2w legend come to F1 and shine. I would love it how about you.

  17. Even though he is the fastest, i am not sure if he can win the world title this year. but we will see.

  18. Remember how Fisichella struggled in Ferrari last year? Comparing Rossi’s test to that performance I just admire his ability to drive anything that has wheels – no matter 2 or 4.
    I doubt any of you armchair pilots knowing everything about tyres, downforce and other specs can roll F1 car out of the pit box withot stalling the engine, not to mention lapping within 30 sec from Valentino time.

    1. To be fair, the F2008 was a lot more driveable than the F60…

      And ultimately, we shouldn’t be comparing Rossi to ourselves, we should be comparing him to those already in F1, which is what we’re doing.

      1. Journeyer:
        “we shouldn’t be comparing Rossi to ourselves, we should be comparing him to those already in F1”

        Hey, that’s exactly what I did – the very first words of mine were:

        “Remember how Fisichella struggled in Ferrari last year?”

  19. It’s very impressive that Valentino Rossi can put in respectable lap times when he spends most of his time on two wheels. Rossi has clearly got a natural apptitude for motorsport, extending beyond more than one discipline. Just like John Surtees, Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna, Colin McRae and Sebastien Loeb.

    But this is nothing to get hugely excited about, partly for the reasons explained in Keith’s article. Also because being close to a competitive time is the relatively easy bit – the last 0.5-1.0 seconds are the most difficult.

  20. There are so many variables, it is meaningless, running on slicks alone makes it totally incomparible to Kimi’s 2008 fastest lap.

    Great marketing.

    Would be amazing if Schumi, Lewis and Teflonso were joined by Rossi.

    Yet another great article.

  21. There are so many variables that comparison means little , however , for a guy who having just done a year in Moto GP and taken the title , which would have would have made his mind so fine tuned to riding , now to almost straight after jump into another discipline of motor racing and achieve competitive lap times surely indicates his obvious natural talent for 4 wheels as well. That coupled with his popularity and character , and the fact he is Italian , makes him in my opinion the ideal driver Ferrari (and F1) would most want driving their cars right now , even more than Alonso.

  22. Imagine if he goes the whole season or two in F1 car?!How much can be improved? I follow the whole seasons over the past 15 years moto gp and respect him very much. There is no doubt that all this time he drove the F1 car would be a great champion on 4-wheels to.

  23. Do we know whether the engine on that car was turned fully up?

    I would have thought that, in the interests of longevity, they would run the engines turned down a little…

  24. Vale per sempre
    22nd January 2010, 17:01

    hahaha whatever the car was. Valentino can drive! this man is outstanding. Give him some time and he will beat Alonso! In fiorano he almost equaled Schumis time. And next to that, I bet everyone here, if they were in a F1 car, they even can;t drive is normal! Look a the topgear guy, that man drives every day fast cars and he can drive for sure, but when he drove the renault f1 car, he even couldnot complete one normaal lap. Valentino per sempre!!!!!

  25. Jraybay-Hamiltonmclarenfan
    22nd January 2010, 19:01

    Whether the car was legal or not Rossi is a naturally gifted racer on two wheels or four. He’s the best :D

  26. Schumi races bikes. How do his times compare to Rossi’s?

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