Sir Stirling Moss dies aged 90 after long illness

Passed away peacefully at home

SIR STIRLING Moss, often described as the greatest F1 driver never to win the World Championship, has passed away after a long illness, his family confirmed this morning.

Moss was a true great of motor sport, respected not only as a tremendously fast driver but also one with great mechanical sympathy and sportsmanship. He won 16 Formula One races, including the British Grand Prix (twice) and the Monaco Grand Prix (three times), and stood on the F1 podium 24 times, finishing runner-up in the series four times and third three times.

Moss famously lost out on the F1 title in 1958 to rival Mike Hawthorn, though would have won had it not been for an act of astonishing sportsmanship at the Portuguese GP, the ninth round of 11. Hawthorn had finished second behind Moss but was initially disqualified; after having to stop on track he was spotted bump-starting his car downhill while rejoining the race, travelling a short distance in the wrong direction. Moss’s appeal led to the Ferrari driver being reinstated and his seven points re-awarded, and Hawthorn later won the championship by a single point.

While Moss’s prowess in F1 was well-known, he took part in many disciplines of motor sport and proved himself a winner in many different cars and competitions, on road and track. Arguably his most famous win was the 1955 Mile Miglia; a 1,000-mile race through Italy held entirely on pubic roads. Moss drove a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, which was based on the Mercedes team’s Formula One car, with co-driver Denis Jenkinson to victory in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds at an average speed of 99mph. The two Englishmen finished 32 minutes ahead of Juan-Manuel Fangio, their Mercedes teammate.

1955 Mille Miglia. Sir Stirling Moss dies aged 90 after long illness

In a period interview contained within a new Netflix documentary, Fangio, often thought of as the greatest racing driver of all time, said: “When I first saw Stirling Moss racing I felt great admiration for the guy. He was fighting with the best, and over the races we became friends. I consider him one of my best friends.”

Moss retired from full-time racing officially in 1963 after a crash at Goodwood left him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for six months, though he later returned to one-off events before joining the British Saloon Car Championship in 1980, in which he competed for two seasons. He subsequently drove at various historic meetings, such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival until the age of 81, before retiring from public life in January 2018.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) said “no-one could have been prouder” to be part of the organisation than Moss, who was its longest-serving member.

Its statement said: “In the history of motor racing, not just in his home country but also wherever he raced around the world, Sir Stirling held a unique status, which continued throughout his life, long after he retired from his front line racing career.

“He was universally recognised, following the retirement of the great Juan Manuel Fangio in 1958, as the racing driver who set the standards by which all other drivers were judged, whether in Formula 1 or international sports car racing.

“His versatility and competitive instincts made him a formidable competitor in any race.”

Moss was known to have ongoing health problems and had spent 134 days in hospital after suffering a chest infection while on holiday in Singapore in December 2016. His wife Lady Moss, who had been nursing him since, was at his bedside when he died at his Mayfair home, according to the Daily Mail.

“He died as he lived, looking wonderful,” she told the newspaper. “He simply tired in the end and he just closed his beautiful eyes and that was that.”

“It was one lap too many, he just closed his eyes,” Lady Moss told the BBC.

The racing world has been paying tributes to Moss on social media. “Today we say goodbye to Sir Stirling Moss, the racing legend,” Lewis Hamilton tweeted. “I certainly will miss our conversations. I am truly grateful to have had these special moments with him. Sending my prayers and thoughts to his family. May he rest in peace.”

The former Formula One driver Martin Brundle, now a television commentator, tweeted: “RIP Sir Stirling Moss. A mighty racer and gentleman . . . He had such great stories to tell, and it was a privilege to know him.”

Three-time F1 world champion Jackie Stewart, who came into the sport shortly after Moss’ retirement in 1961, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “He walked like a racing driver should walk, he talked like a racing driver, he looked like a racing driver and he set a standard that I think has been unmatched since he retired.”

Stirling Moss tributes on Twitter