Lando Norris might be hotly tipped for future stardom in Formula 1 but the British protégé says his first racing hero came from the world of two-wheel motorsport.
In an interview with Crash.net
, the 17-year-old says his unlikely motorsport hero is nine-time world champion on two wheels Valentino Rossi and explained a potential career in bikes was overtaken by his passion for karting.
As a child Norris first got into motorsport through riding a 50cc minibike across his family's farm and that interest delved into MotoGP where a certain Rossi caught his eye.
While the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were providing young Brits with new racing idols, Norris says he preferred trying to be cool like 'the Doctor' during his dominant reign of MotoGP in the 2000s.
“I started off riding motorbikes and at that point my hero was Valentino Rossi,” Norris told Crash.net
. “I used to watch some F1 races but I was never straightaway thinking 'that is what I want to do'. I liked watching Rossi, his style, his colours and everything. He was someone I looked up to and until now he is still my only hero.
“He is the king of motorbikes and most people like Rossi mainly because he comes across as a pretty fun and good character. He is cool and has a good style and look. Especially when I was young he was cool and that is what I wanted to be like.”
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Norris had his motorsport attention turned to four wheels after receiving a kids kart on his seventh birthday and hasn't looked back since.
After breaking various karting records alongside picking up a number of titles, the British teenager won the Toyota Racing Series, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 NEC titles in 2016 which paved the way for his McLaren BRDC Award win last year.
The 17-year-old now has his sights firmly set on Formula 1 and is preparing for a rookie campaign in the European Formula 3 championship with Carlin, while also being heavily linked to a number of F1 junior programmes which he feels could be vital to help him achieve his dreams.
“I turned away from bikes when I got a bambino kart for my seventh birthday and started doing some karting, just around some cones at home, but I didn't think at that point I knew I wanted to go into F1, it was more just for fun,” he said. “Until 10 or 11 I only knew that was my goal [F1] then that is when I started to aim for it.
“But I still have that exact 50cc bike. “Sometimes I'll still get on it to go up the road but it is pretty slow and doesn't run the best.”
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