MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi and Formula 1 (F1) world champion Lewis Hamilton look headed for a seat swap in December. The Week reports that negotiations are under way for the swap, with the Italian driving one of Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 cars and the Brit riding Rossi’s Yamaha M1. It will likely take place in Abu Dhabi at the conclusion of the F1 and MotoGP seasons.
Rossi confirmed talks about the possible swap. “Yes, we are trying to arrange this swap with Hamilton, it would be something fantastic,” he said. “They are trying to organise a day when Lewis tries my M1 and I try his Mercedes. We hope to make it happen, it would be very cool.”
This swap will purportedly be made possible by Monster Energy, which is a major sponsor of both Mercedes and Yamaha. If the swap pushes through it will be the first time Hamilton will ride a real MotoGP bike, though he owns and rides many of his own superbikes. He has even ridden a Yamaha YZF-R1 at Jerez last year (which he crashed).
News of this swap is not surprising. Rossi and Hamilton are good friends, and in 2017 Hamilton opened up about their special friendship. “I’m his friend, he’s the one I like the most,” admitted Hamilton in an interview with Che Tempo Che Fa presenter Fabio Fazio. And it appears the F1 superstar wants to be a bit like his good friend — at least when he’s riding his own motorcycle. “When I ride a motorcycle through Monaco,” Hamilton said, “I feel a bit like Valentino.”
Rossi, who has twice tested a Ferrari F1 car, previously tried to hook up Hamilton with a MotoGP bike. Back in 2005, Hamilton announced his desire to ride a topflight motorcycle, noting how racing motorbikes was a childhood dream. Now it appears Hamilton will finally get his chance by trying out one of Rossi’s bikes.
Rossi and Hamilton are legends of their respective worlds. Rossi is a nine-time MotoGP world champion, and has been the sport’s top name for some two decades now. That’s why his September tour around his Italian hometown — on-board his Yamaha M1 no less — was supported by so many people. It was where his distinguished career began.
Hamilton, for his part, is F1’s Rossi. He is this generation’s best F1 driver, having won the World Driver’s Championship six times (including five of the last six). A guide to Hamilton’s illustrious career by Ladbrokes notes that only Michael Schumacher is more successful than him, with seven world championships to his name. But Hamilton, like Rossi, continues to excel, and he’ll likely tie, and even surpass, Schumacher in the next few years — that is unless Hamilton falls in love with his good friend’s superbike and decides to make the supposed one-off swap permanent. It’s unlikely, although his F1 rivals would certainly welcome it.
To reiterate, nothing in this proposed seat swap is concrete at the moment.