The bosses at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team must have been wincing each time Hamilton leaned on the 2019-spec YZR-M1 on the Valencia circuit, knowing that a tiny mistake on Valentino Rossi’s factory Yamaha, which weighs no more than 157 kg but has ‘over 240 hp’, could rob the team of a driver at the peak of his powers for the 2020 season.
Alas, it turned out well in the end, in a session where the newly-crowned six-time Formula 1 champion swapped hardware with the seven-time MotoGP legend. While no lap times were revealed, Yamaha Racing’s managing director Lin Jarvis said that Hamilton ‘did himself proud’, and that few F1 drivers could have or would have undertaken the incredible challenge of riding a MotoGP bike in anger on track.
Rossi’s outing on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG W08 wouldn’t have been his first in a Formula 1 car, the Italian having tested on numerous occasions with Scuderia Ferrari over the 2000s, even rumoured to have contemplated a race seat at some point in time. It was however Rossi’s first go on an F1 car with a hybrid power unit, his last run being in 2010.
Hamilton and Rossi at Valencia gallery