Rossi, a nine-time world champion on two wheels, will bid farewell to MotoGP after the final round of the 2021 season in Valencia following an incredible 26-year career in motorcycle racing. 

During that time, the 42-year-old Italian has claimed 115 victories in his 431 grands prix, 89 of which came on his way to winning seven championships in MotoGP. 

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Hamilton paid tribute to Rossi, calling him “such a legend”. 

"It's obviously sad to see Vale stopping but his I think his drive, his approach, just everything he's everything he's done has been incredible,” he said. 

"The passion that he's had for so long has shown through. And [he's] just such a legend – one of the greatest to ever do it, if not the greatest to ever have done it.

"So, it'll just be sad to not be watching the races and seeing him just ride in style as he usually does. But I think it's a beautiful time for him also, because he's got a family now he's growing or starting to build." 

At the end of the 2019 season, Hamilton and Rossi took part in a special track day organised by Mercedes and Monster Energy. 

"But I'm grateful I've had the privilege to share a really special day with him on track," Hamilton added. "I'll always remember that.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris, who is an avid Rossi fan, credited the MotoGP legend for influencing his interest in motorsport. 

“He sent me a message last night, just because he is going into the final race of his career,” Norris revealed. “It is sad times. I’m going to miss him. 

“I’m going to try to watch as many MotoGP races as I can. He was the guy that I watched when I was four, five, six years old. He got me into racing. He got me onto a motorbike first. 

“He has been the guy that I have looked up to, the guy who kind of helped me get to this position where I am because probably without watching him my ambition of being a racing driver would not have been so high. 

“I’m lucky that I got to meet him once at a race at Silverstone. I got to go to the MotoGP race. I’m going to miss him in MotoGP. I don’t think it’s just me. 

“There are millions of fans who support him and are also going to miss him being in F1 and the padlock. He is a character. 

“One of the best things about him is the character that he is amongst people and fans, he has time for everyone. He is a good guy and he is definitely going to be missed.”