MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi says it’s an honour for him to have such a strong following in the Formula 1 paddock.
Lando Norris sported a Rossi-style racing helmet at last week’s Italian Grand Prix, and spoke at considerable length about his admiration for motorcycling’s ‘greatest of all time’.
“I’m very happy, I’m very proud, for me it’s an honour,” he said of the sight of Norris adopting his own racing colours for the event. “Lando did a great job, it was a great pleasure.
“Now we swap the helmet as soon as possible!”
The pair first met in August ahead of the British MotoGP at Silverstone. Rossi subsequently gave his blessing to Norris’ use of a tribute helmet in the Formula 1 race at Monza.
“It was an opportunity to make the race more special,” Norris explained. “More of a one-off and something to remember it by, having more of a connection with Valentino,.
“[He’s] the guy I’ve always looked up to, my hero,” he added. “So it is more of a dedication to him than anything else.”
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon is another driver to have spoken of his early devotion to Rossi, revealing that his choice of F1 race number 23 – half that of Rossi’s famous 46 – was purely intentional.
“I’ve always been a Rossi fan,” Albon admitted on Twitter at the end of 2018. “But since I can’t replace the Doctor himself, I thought I’d have half of it!”
“They said that they grew up following MotoGP, following me,” Motorsport.com quoted Rossi as saying on Friday ahead of the San Marino MotoGP at Imola. “That they are my fans – and it’s something good!”
“I like the feeling, especially because they are two very, very strong drivers,” he added.
“[Lando] is a very good guy. “He’s very young, because he’s 19, but he’s already very clever,” said Rossi. “He looks like he has a lot more experience than his age, so I’m also his fan.”
Rossi is hoping to swap his MotoGP bike for an F1 car later this year in a special event with Lewis Hamilton, who is also a fan of the two-wheel racing legend.
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