Lando Norris has revealed just how strong Valentino Rossi’s influence is on his career, saying the Italian “inspired” him to be who he is today.
Although Rossi competes in the world of MotoGP while Norris has now completed his first season in F1, the nine-time champion was Norris’ biggest inspiration to begin racing.
The 20-year-old met his idol for the first time in 2019 at MotoGP’s British GP in August, while Norris would sport a tribute helmet and boots for Rossi at last season’s F1 Italian Grand Prix.
With the pair having not before last year, it may seem strange that Norris developed such a strong admiration for Rossi, but it all makes sense after Norris revealed that this goes back all the way to his childhood.
Speaking at Autosport International 2020, Norris said: “I started watching Valentino before I started watching Formula 1, when I was like four years old.
“He was the first guy I watched in any sort of racing, whether it was cars, rallying, bikes or whatever.
“He was the guy who when I was such a young kid, I looked up to, and I dreamt of being like him in many ways.
“There are still things and characteristics that maybe I have which are similar to him, like my helmet design and the colours, and just things I like to do.
“He was the guy that inspired me to be who I am today.”
Although Norris admits he is racing mad, it wasn’t until he gave karting a go that he became hooked on a career in motorsport.
“I’ve loved racing. As soon as I saw it once, I loved it,” he explained.
“I watched MotoGP first of all. I then just got into a bit of all-round racing, whether it was Formula 1, rallying, GT cars, whatever. I just loved motorsports.
“The first time I got to go and watch a race was when I was around six or seven, which was a go-kart race, and then I got my first go-kart because all I wanted to do was have a go, and that’s how it all started.”