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Rossi to test Ferrari alongside Schumacher
Alan Baldwin | January 27, 2006 13:29 IST
Ferrari will test motorcycling world champion Valentino Rossi alongside Michael Schumacher and other Formula One drivers in Valencia next week, the team confirmed on Thursday.
Rossi has had a series of tests with the former champions but the three-day session starting on January 31 marks a significant step up in the assessment of the charismatic Italian's talent.
A Ferrari spokesman said Rossi would drive the F2004 car in a test session with seven times champion Schumacher and Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Ferrari are taking three cars to Valencia but the test is not a private one and Honda, McLaren, Williams, BMW and Toyota are all scheduled to be using the eastern Spanish track at the same time.
Rossi, 26, is under contract to the Yamaha MotoGP team this season but has been increasingly linked to a switch to Formula One for 2007 or 2008.
Schumacher's Ferrari contract runs out at the end of this year and the 37-year-old German has yet to decide whether to continue or retire.
"For me it is pretty transparent," Schumacher said at the launch of Ferrari's new car at Mugello on Tuesday when asked about the likelihood of Rossi testing alongside him next week.
"We concentrate very much on our season's preparations and it's not really a big matter if Valentino is there or is not there for this year. It might be different for the future.
"As far as I am concerned we are focussed, we just concentrate on our job."
Ferrari Team boss Jean Todt told reporters earlier this month that the Italian wanted to develop his knowledge of a Formula One car and Ferrari would create the conditions for him to do that.
"After the Mugello test last year, the next step is to do it in a different environment with other drivers running," commented the Ferrari spokesman.
Rossi had a three-day session with Ferrari at the Mugello circuit in central Italy and the team's Fiorano test track last November.
He has not shared the track with other drivers so far, however. But Valencia, like Mugello, will be familiar to him from racing motorcycles.
Rossi's first test was a highly secretive affair at Fiorano in 2004 and his second was at the same private circuit last August.
Italy's highest-paid sportsman won 11 MotoGP races last season on his way to a fifth successive crown in the top class of Grand Prix motorcycling, his seventh world title in all.
Briton John Surtees is the only man to have won world championships on two wheels and four, taking the Formula One crown with Ferrari in 1964.
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