MotoGP & NASCAR stars for Ferrari, Mercedes

Formula 1 supremo Chase Carey Saturday confirmed that 9-time Moto GP world champion Valentino Rossi will drive a third Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon will drive a third Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton and Valtierri Bottas starting at the Spanish Grand Prix on 14 May.

"We are delighted to confirm that Jeff Gordon and Valentino Rossi will join the Formula 1 ranks from the Spanish Grand Prix," F1 CEO Carey confirmed at a press conference in Paris Saturday. "We have been hard at it behind the scenes to improve the spectacle and with Manor F1 folding over the off season, we looked at ways of returning to a 22-car grid. 

"Both Mercedes-AMG F1 and Scuderia Ferrari were open to talks and it was decided to find the highest profile drivers to fill the seats of an additional car each team will enter from Spain onward."

"Valentino has always wanted to race F1 and has tested for Ferrari on several occasions. "Ferrari has bought Rossi out of his Yamaha MGP contract and both he and Jeff will commence an intense six-week acclimatisation and test program this week," F1 Star Driver Project Manager Primo d'Aprile added. "Jeff Gordon retired from NASCAR racing at the end of 2015 and raced a few times as a substitute for Dale Earnhart Junior last year and he is delighted to officially come out of retirement to race Mercedes number 26 in F1."

"Commentating on NASCAR is not enough of a challenge," Californian Gordon (45), who has tested for both Stewart F1 and BMW-Sauber in the past confirmed. "I have been working hard on my fitness and we won the Daytona 24 in January so I am in a good position to step up my game - I can't wait to test the Mercedes and race it for the rest of the season."

"My dream was always to race Formula 1 after Moto GP," Italian Rossi, 39 admitted. "I was not expecting to make the move just yet, but I cannot ignore this opportunity. "I am looking forward to a new era in my life driving Ferrari number 46."