Valentino Rossi has spent virtually his entire life on the track, and that's not just a figure of speech. At the age of 42 this will be his 26th season in the world championship "and I hope it will not be the last" he hastens to add with a smile. For the rest he always looks the same, with a yellow cap and a smile on his face, only the shirt has a different colour, that of the Petronas team.
"The atmosphere on the Thursday of the first race is always the same. It is like the first day at school and it is always exciting," said the eternal school-kid with the age and CV of a professor. "Also when you take all the pictures together on the grid you have the feeling that in a few hours everything starts. I'm in a new team but I feel good. The test was not so bad and now we have to see in a real race weekend where we stand."
How and how much have you changed since 1996, the year of your debut?
“It's 26 seasons, a number that makes you think (laughs) … It’s better to stay focused on the present and the future. It's a long time and I've changed a lot, of course I'm older but I still have the same feelings and I have the same passion for motorcycles and MotoGP. The emotion you feel when you go out of the garage for the first time hasn't changed and it won't change this time either. I'm happy to be here and I'll try to do my best to be competitive ”.
Speaking of changes, how do you feel in a satellite team?
"In a factory team you have more pressure, that's the difference, but the atmosphere was as good there as it is here. I am very happy to have Morbidelli as a teammate because we are good friends and he is one of the best MotoGP riders. For me it will be a great motivation.”
How do you think your coexistence will be?
“From a personal point of view, I'm happy because we've known each other for a long time, but on the track he won't be the easiest teammate. I knew he was fast, but in the second half of the championship he was a surprise for everyone, he won three races. It will be difficult against him, but I hope we can have some good battles for good positions ”.
So 26 years of world championship racing isn't too long?
"I hope this is not my last, it will all depend on the results".
Who are your favourites for the title in the three classes?
"I'm not very impartial, so I say all the Academy riders: Morbidelli in MotoGP, Bezzecchi in Moto2 and Migno in Moto3".
Sport documentaries are very fashionable at the moment, what would you think of one about MotoGP?
"It would be fun, both for MotoGP fans but it’s also good for people who don’t know very well MotoGP and they can understand the way."