Bike legend Rossi to be driving in Formula One by 2007

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The Independent Online

Valentino Rossi, the dominant motorcyclist of his generation and possibly the greatest rider of all time, is expected to be driving in Formula One by 2007.

Valentino Rossi, the dominant motorcyclist of his generation and possibly the greatest rider of all time, is expected to be driving in Formula One by 2007.

"We know that Valentino, from 2007, will be in Formula One," Davide Brivio, the Yamaha team manager, said yesterday.

The 26-year-old Rossi, the reigning MotoGP champion with Yamaha, said: "For 2006 I am not changing I will stay where I am. I am settled, it is an excellent team. Soon my people will speak and it will be an easy agreement.

"From the end of 2006 I am free and if I have any offers from car teams I will weigh them up."

Rossi has test driven with the Ferrari F1 team and there has long been speculation that he could take over from Michael Schumacher - a partnership that would delight fans and sponsors in Italy.

"They are friends and I have already driven for them [in testing] but they are not the only ones," said Rossi about Ferrari.

Asked whether he felt ready for the switch, Rossi said: "When I was a kid I started out in cart racing and then I discovered motorcycling but my passion for the car has remained.

"I've tried rallying and I like driving the powerful World Rally Championship cars. It is a family passion which I share with my grandfather Graziano."

Rossi goes into the weekend's French MotoGP hoping to extend his lead as he aims for a fifth successive world title. The 26-year-old was world champion in the 125cc and 250cc classes before moving up to MotoGP where he won his first three world titles with Honda.

Toyota could face sanctions from Formula One's governing body, the FIA, after it emerged yesterday that the team has competed for years without the correct paperwork.

Teams must have a competition licence issued by their national authority before they can get a superlicence, which is issued by the FIA.

John Howett, the Toyota president, said the team, second in the championship behind Renault, had always had a superlicence but had failed to renew their competition licence since 2000.

One sanction could consist of the team being stripped of their points for the first four races of the season.

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