Racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has died, aged 90, after a lengthy illness.
A brilliantly versatile driver, Moss was a poet at the wheel of almost any type of racing car, excelling in Grands Prix and endurance racing alike. He proudly acknowledged the honorary title of the greatest driver never to have won the Formula 1 World Championship crown.
The son of a dentist who dabbled in racing, Moss started down the motorsport path in 1947, cutting his teeth (no pun intended) in Formula 500 before winning the 1950 Tourist Trophy in a Jaguar XJK120.
His Anglophile nature kept him in British cars for the few seasons of F1, but he eventually bit the bullet and purchased a Maserati 250F to improve his results.
The effect was immediate, and Stirling found himself hired by Mercedes-Benz to partner Juan-Manuel Fangio, before moving onto the Vanwall outfit, then Rob Walker’s Cooper and Lotus cars – all three constructors became pivotal in breaking the monopoly of F1 then held by the continental teams.
Allied with a great sense of humour and a taste for “chasing crumpet”, Moss’ sense of fair play was always evident when racing. It was this sporting attitude that cost him the 1958 World Championship to Mike Hawthorn – who won a single race to Moss’ four that year – by one point when he stood up for his compatriot in a stewards’ hearing at the Portuguese Grand Prix (a race that Moss won), which could have resulted in Hawthorn losing points he had rightly earned.
Moss’ potentially lengthy career came to an end at Easter in 1962, when his Lotus left the Goodwood circuit at high speed and he suffered major head injuries. Incredibly, he survived, but rushed his recovery and got behind the wheel too quickly – a fact he readily admitted in an exclusive interview with MotorsportM8 which you can read here.
Allayed by doubts that he was no longer competitive, he abruptly retired, and the world has forever wondered if he could indeed have secured the elusive title if he allowed himself that little bit more time…
While he never returned to Formula 1 competition, Moss continued to be an imposing and popular figure at many a motorsport event, taking great delight in demonstrating many a racing car in which he competed over the years.
In 1990, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and ten years later he was finally awarded a Knighthood for his outstanding services to motorsport.
In March 2010, Sir Stirling broke both ankles, broke four bones in a foot and chipped four vertebrae in a freak accident at home when he fell down an elevator shaft at his home. He made a complete recovery and returned to public duties just months later when he appeared on the grid for the British Grand Prix.
Sir Stirling continued to race into his eighties, finally calling it a day during qualifying for the Le Mans Legends Race in 2011.
Moss is survived by his third wife Susie and two children.