Rossi beats 2009 fastest lap at Barcelona

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:

Event Driver Time
Private Ferrari test, January 2010 Valentino Rossi 1’21.900*
Spanish Grand Prix, May 2009 Rubens Barrichello 1’22.762
Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2009 Rubens Barrichello 1’19.954
Spanish Grand Prix, May 2008 Kimi R??ikk??nen 1’21.670*
Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2008 Felipe Massa 1’20.584*

*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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41 comments on Rossi beats 2009 fastest lap at Barcelona

  1. 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.

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

  3. Sergei said on 22nd January 2010, 8:17

    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.

    • Journeyer said on 22nd January 2010, 8:20

      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.

      • Sergei said on 23rd January 2010, 8:28

        “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?”

  4. 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.

  5. Platine said on 22nd January 2010, 9:07

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. harisim said on 22nd January 2010, 11:51

    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.

  8. Adrian said on 22nd January 2010, 15:54

    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…

  9. Vale per sempre said on 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!!!!!

  10. Jraybay-Hamiltonmclarenfan said on 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

  11. Martin B said on 23rd January 2010, 16:36

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

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