MotoGP star Valentino Rossi turns down Formula 1

In a statement to the Italian press Wednesday, MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi announced, "No Formula One, at least for the moment. I'm staying with bikes." The announcement came a day after Rossi was honored with the "Spirit of Sport" award at the annual Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona (photo at right), for his contributions to MotoGP during his five years as World Champion.
Rossi's announcement will disappoint the Ferrari tifosi, who were hopeful that Rossi's tests for the team would again see an Italian behind the wheel of the red cars. With the ultra-competitive Ferrar F1 team, Rossi also had a shot at becoming only the second man (after England's John Surtees) to win world championships on both two and four wheels.

Wednesday's announcement leaves Ferrari's driver lineup for the 2007 season in a state of complete confusion, at least for outsiders. Michael Schumacher has yet to decide whether or not he will continue to drive for the team next year, and Felipe Massa is on a one-year contract for this season. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen, currently driving for McLaren, is widely rumored to have signed a deal with Ferrari, but that agreement could well fall apart if Schumacher returns.

For his part, Michael Schumacher expressed his regret at Rossi's decision, saying, "I think he has a lot of talent in terms of driving... It is sad but that's the way it is."

Rossi, meanwhile, is not enjoying a good start to the 2006 MotoGP season, as his Yamaha factory team is struggling with performance and reliability issues.

[Source: Reuters, Yamaha Racing,]

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