McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris says nine-time motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi helped inspire him “to be who I am today”.

Norris has made no secret of his adoration for Yamaha MotoGP rider Rossi, even going as far as designing a special tribute helmet and boots for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last year.

Rossi met with Norris at the British MotoGP round at Silverstone in August (pictured above), marking the first time the youngster had met his racing hero.

Norris opened up about the influence Rossi had on his racing career and life when speaking at Autosport International last week.

“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,” Norris said.

“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.

“I’ve loved racing. As soon as I saw it once, I loved it. 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.”