The MotoGP legend took part in several tests of a Ferrari Formula 1 car between 2004-2006 which remain part of motorsport folklore.

The Doctor, it was reported at the time, lapped in times competitive to Michael Schumacher’s and had the support of the Ferrari president to make a full-time switch to F1.

He opened up on the saga on Gianluca Gazzoli’s podcast this year: “It was true in the sense that, in 2004 when I won with Yamaha, Stefano Domenicali called me and he said ‘I have to let you test the car’. 

“We went to Fiorano to test the car. I was pretty fast and I lapped under the minute - 59’1. 

“I remember that the mechanics were betting on whether I would lap above or below one minute and, in the end, I won.

“Then after those tests I went to Mugello. I also did a real test in Valencia. 

“And there I had to choose. If I had said yes I would have raced with Minardi, the B team. 

“And then if I had gone fast enough the goal and the path would have been to race with Ferrari.”

Italy-based Minardi were taken over by Red Bull and renamed Toro Rosso in 2006. They would go on to use Ferrari engines.

But their hope of luring two-wheel icon and Italian sporting legend Rossi ended in failure.

“I was still 27 years old and I didn't feel like making this leap because I knew I could win a few more titles and get satisfaction from motorcycling,” he said. 

“For me the motorbike has always been the best. 

“In the end I did very well, even if the curiosity remained, I don't know what I could have done…

“But I won many iconic races and two world championships and I did well like that."

Rossi had previously told Graham Bensinger’s podcast: “For F1, I had a plan, but it was not straight with Ferrari.

"It was to start with a small team, try to make some experience, and after if I am fast enough I’d arrive to Ferrari. But I had a lot of question marks.

"I also had a lot of pressure from my side - ‘Go with the car, go with Ferrari’ because it’s something big.

"Everybody when I tried to explain and try to ask for help for my decision, they said to me ‘you have to go to F1’. Also, my mother, for example.

"I think I had to decide myself, and in my heart, I think I had to stay with MotoGP."

Rossi amassed seven MotoGP championships and now, at the age of 42, races on four wheels.

Next year he intends to compete at the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.