Lewis Hamilton tells Valentino Rossi: “MotoGP is nerve-wracking, more hardcore”

Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi come together to discuss their famous 'job swap' to discuss the merits of competing in MotoGP and F1

Valentino Rossi, Lewis Hamilton

The age-old question over whether competing at the pinnacle of motorsport on either two-wheels in MotoGP or four-wheels in F1 is more daring appears to have been answered… by the most successful driver in the history of grand prix competition.

Now, the above statement is said with one’s tongue firmly lodged in one’s cheek. Of course there has always been a friendly(ish) rivalry between the two disciplines over which - for want of a better phrase - requires the bigger, erm, underwear but the reality is those who compete in MotoGP and/or F1 will always be better riders and drivers than we are.

Few have had the opportunity to try both - R.I.P the great John Surtees - but in the modern era we have seen Valentino Rossi get a few tests at the wheel of both Ferrari and Mercedes F1 cars, while Lewis Hamilton got the chance to try a Yamaha M1 in Valencia in 2019.

Roll forward to 2022 and the pair have come together again for an interview reminiscing about their ‘job swap’ during which they discussed the merits of both.

Insisting bikes were his first love, Hamilton accepts MotoGP is ‘more hardcore’ simply from a potential injury perspective. 

“I think MotoGP is more hardcore, these guys don’t have seatbelts,” he says, somewhat stating the obvious.

“When they have a crash, it is big. It is hard for them to improve safety. The fear factor for them is always there, and has been there for years. Our sport is getting safer and safer. We watch [MotoGP] in complete shock. It is nerve-wracking.

“I have always loved bikes. When I was younger I wanted to race bikes, not cars, but my dad wouldn’t let me race bikes - he said they were too dangerous!

“He got me into four wheels rather than two, It was the right choice because if I was racing during the time Vale was there, I wouldn’t have been so successful.

“Since I have been in Formula 1, I have a super-bike and I like to do some track days. It is fascinating. It gives a different perspective.”

The interview comes out just as Rossi’s new career as a four-wheel racer kicks off with the opening round of the GT World Challenge Europe at Imola this weekend - where he will drive a Team WRT Audi R8 with Frederic Vervisch and Nico Muller 

“I am excited for a new adventure, racing with a car,” Rossi said. “It is the second chapter of my career.”

Prompting Hamilton to ask ‘when are you coming to Formula 1?’, Rossi replies ‘unfortunately I am too old!’.

Discussing the merits of being able to race cars and bikes, Rossi believes the mentality of racing drivers mean they are able to make the transition if they wanted to.

“All the MotoGP riders love Formula 1, and the Formula 1 drivers love MotoGP. The two sports are at the top of motorsport and are very connected.

“To drive a car or to ride a motorcycle? It is different but also the same. The lines are similar, and the braking. You have to be fast.

“If you can drive a car, you can also ride a bike, and the opposite.”

“Our skill is to adapt. On a bike you see lines that you wouldn’t normally take in a car. The braking is different but the goal is to get through as quickly as possible. We adapt - that is what we do best. It is second nature.”

Hamilton goes on to discuss the extremities riders and drivers are put through, revealing he blacked out when being flown in a fighter jet.

“I have been in a fighter jet and even that felt natural,” he continues.

“The perception of your speed is different. You are faster but it doesn’t feel as fast as a bike on the ground. In a plane, I blacked out. It was 8Gs and I didn’t have a G-suit on.”

Rossi adds: “Speed is exciting. It is something you get used to.

“The first time you try MotoGP you think it is impossible but you improve. Your brain reacts. It is a great feeling.

“You are doing something very dangerous but with the feeling that, more or less, everything is under control.”