MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo is apparently set for a Formula One test with the Mercedes F1 team.
Quartararo was in Le Castellet at the weekend for the 2022 Formula One French Grand Prix, and spent some time in the Mercedes box.
For the AMG Mercedes team, it was a positive Sunday, as they took their first double podium finish of the season after a crash for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and confusion for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez at the end of a late Virtual Safety Car.
It also seems to have turned out to be a positive weekend for Quartararo, who now seems set for a test with the Mercedes team.
Crash.net reports that Sky F1’s pit lane reporter, Ted Kravitz, said at the weekend that “Quartararo is doing a Mercedes test at the end of the year.”
Fabio Quartararo bags Mercedes F1 test!
That would make Quartararo the third factory Yamaha MotoGP rider of the past six years to do a Formula One test with Mercedes.
Valentino Rossi famously tested for Ferrari between 2006 and 2008, during his first stint in Yamaha’s factory team, and displayed pace such that a move to Formula One was on the cards for a while.
Of course, Rossi stayed in MotoGP, where he went on to win the title in 2008 and 2009, and another 12 Grands Prix after that between 2013 and 2017 after returning to Yamaha from Ducati.
During Rossi’s second stint with Yamaha, his then-teammate Jorge Lorenzo tested the 2014 Mercedes car in 2016 at Silverstone.
Three years later, Rossi was back in a Formula One car himself, at Valencia at the end of the 2019. He drove the 2017 title-winning Mercedes, while Mercedes driver and (now) seven-times Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton hopped on a Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP machine.
There have also been Formula One tests for Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, back in 2018. They drove a 2012 Red Bull painted in the colors of what was then the Toro Rosso team, because at that time the Red Bull team was with Renault engines, while Toro Rosso had already switched to Honda.
Antonio Cairoli, the nine-times Motocross World Champion, also took part in the test at the Red Bull Ring with Marquez and Pedrosa in 2018, the year after he won his final world title.
Of all the MotoGP riders who have tested an F1 car, Rossi was the only one who came close to making the switch full-time, back in the mid-to-late 2000s. For the Italian, a sense that he would not be as competitive on four wheels as he was on two, in combination with a love for motorcycle racing, saw him take the decision to stay in MotoGP.
Whether Quartararo would have a chance to switch to four wheels would firstly depend on his pace and understanding of the car in his test later this year. In any case, it is surely too early to be considering such a switch; Quartararo has at this point just agreed a deal to make one test, and he is secured at Yamaha in MotoGP for the next two years.
Further to that, F1 teams are currently too scared to take a chance on a top IndyCar driver over a middling F2 driver, so the chances of one taking a motorcycle racer seem skinnier than a Monza-spec rear wing.
But, the point of the test is for Quartararo to have fun driving one of the fastest cars in the world, while Mercedes get some relatively easy marketing points.
In any case, when the rumors about a switch for Rossi began, the feeling in MotoGP was that he had already passed his peak, and his title-winning days were behind him (such feeling turned out to be wrong, of course).
Quartararo is 23-years-old, and his ability to win MotoGP titles for the next few years is not a point worth discussing.