Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have been effusive in their praise of Valentino Rossi, who is set to retire following this weekend’s Valencia Grand Prix in MotoGP.
Like Hamilton, Rossi is a motorsport icon and has seven world titles to his name in what has been an incredible career on two wheels.
The pair famously swapped rides in 2019, with Hamilton sampling the 2019 Yamaha bike, while Rossi drove the 2017 Mercedes F1 car.
It is clear that the Briton, who has the chance this season to surpass the Italian in motorsport title terms with an eighth crown, has complete admiration for the 42-year-old.
“It’s obviously sad to see him stopping but I think his drive, his approach, just everything he’s done has been incredible,” Hamilton said at the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix in F1.
“The passion he’s had for so long has shone through, he’s just such a legend, one of the greatest to ever do it, if not the greatest to have done it.
“It’ll just be sad not to be watching the races and seeing him ride in style as he usually does, but I think it’s a beautiful time for him also because he’s got a family now that he’s starting to build.
“I’m grateful I’ve had the privilege to share a really special day with him on track. I’ll always remember that.”
It’s not been the dream ending to his career that he would have wanted, with the Italian currently 20th in the standings heading into the final race of the season.
Sitting alongside Hamilton in the Brazil press conference, two-time world champion Alonso also paid tribute to the outgoing Rossi.
“It’s sad to see it’s his final race, a legend of the sport. I’m wishing him the best and a lot of happiness in this new chapter in life,” the Spaniard said.
The upcoming Sao Paulo Grand Prix could prove vital as Hamilton bids to take an unprecedented eighth world title by the end of this season.
With just four races to go, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen currently holds a 19-point lead at the top of the standings heading into the weekend’s action in Brazil, live on Sky Sports F1.