Rossi retired from MotoGP at the end of the 2021 season having first competed in the grand prix world championship in 1996.
In a career spanning 26 seasons, Rossi won nine world titles across the 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP classes – seven of which coming in the premier class – and 115 grands prix, with 89 coming in the top class.
MotoGP announced during the French GP two weeks ago that it would be retiring Rossi’s famous #46 from competition in the series at a special ceremony on Saturday at Mugello.
It was an announcement that has drawn criticism, as Rossi stated in the past he wouldn’t like to have his number retired.
“About my number, I was thinking – my first impression is that I don’t like that the 46 is retired. I prefer that it remains and if some other rider wants to take that number they can,” Rossi said on the subject back in 2016.
At a ceremony on the pit straight at Mugello on Saturday afternoon ahead of MotoGP qualifying, Rossi’s number was retired with the nine-time world champion in attendance watched on by much of the paddock.
Rossi was presented with a special trophy carrying his number before addressing the main grandstand at Mugello.
“I have to say thank you for all this, it’s amazing,” Rossi said, adding when asked by to come back to MotoGP: “Oh, my back and my knees hurt, so I realised I’m old. But that was amazing, thank you all.”
Valentino Rossi, retiring the number 46 with Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO
Photo by: Media VR46
Rossi retains a big presence in the MotoGP grid through his VR46 Ducati squad and his Academy riders.
Currently there are four VR46 Academy riders on the MotoGP grid, with Francesco Bagnaia at Ducati, Franco Morbidelli at Yamaha and Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi at VR46 Racing.
Rossi has little involvement in his race team during grand prix weekends, with the Italian only expected to appear at a couple more rounds in 2022 having come to Portimao and Mugello.
Since his retirement from MotoGP, Rossi has embarked on a car racing career in the GT World Challenge Europe with WRT and Audi.