Lando Norris has been in contact with Valentino Rossi ahead of the Italian’s final MotoGP race and hopes to race with the nine-time world champion in future.
Rossi announced his plan to retire earlier this season and will bring the curtain down on his MotoGP career in Valencia this weekend, having raced in the premier class — winning seven titles at that level — since 2000. Norris lists Rossi as one of his idols growing up and the pair have been in touch since the 21-year-old reached Formula 1, and he hopes the pair can race together at some stage.
“He sent me a message last night, just because he is going into the final race of his career,” Norris said. “It is sad times. I’m going to miss him. I still to try to watch as many MotoGP races as I can. He was the guy 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 wouldn’t have been so high. I’m going to miss it.
“I’m lucky that I got to meet him once at a (MotoGP) race at Silverstone. I’m going to miss him in MotoGP. I don’t think it’s just me — I think there are millions of fans who support him and are also going to miss him and his character, because I think that’s one of the best things about him — the guy he is, the character he is. Amongst people and fans, he has time for everyone. He is a good guy and he is definitely going to be missed.
“You want to know exactly what he said? It was just a follow-up from a message that I sent him before this final weekend. A little heartfelt message saying I was going to miss him in MotoGP and congratulations for everything that he has achieved.
“We talk every now and then. We still want to try to do something together in terms of driving. He does a few GTs and stuff. He does the Abu Dhabi 12 Hours or the Dubai 12 Hours. It’s not just motorbikes that he likes — he loves car racing as well. Now he maybe has a bit more time to come to an F1 race, that is the plan for something that we want to do together. Hopefully that can be done.”
While Rossi is retiring from bike racing, Norris doesn’t think he will have to rush into a racing collaboration as he expects the 42-year-old to compete on four wheels for some time to come.
“I didn’t say when, probably not quite soon. I do not know how many more years he wants to keep competing. He is a competitive guy so I’m sure he will be around racing and motorbikes and cars for a while. Since we got to know each other we have always wanted to do something together. Even if it is online or something.
“But to do something a bit more — because we still have not done a helmet swap, which we were going to do. There is unfinished business of stuff we want to do together between Valentino — VR46 — and myself. Hopefully there are some cool things we can still look forward to.”
That could even include a chance to ride a motorcycle alongside Rossi, although Norris admits he’d need approval from McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.
“I would have to ask Andreas; Andreas is the strict guy in the camp. I would have to see if he would let me. Before I got into karting and cars I was on two wheels. I wouldn’t say I have as much ability as with four wheels and a car but I’d give it a go. It is still something I want to do. Trying a mini moto or something, maybe not straight onto a MotoGP bike. Something a bit smaller and more suited to my abilities.”