News

Vale: Sir Stirling Moss, 1929-2020

The greatest driver to never win the F1 world championship has passed away, aged 90
- shares

Sir Stirling Moss, one of the all-time greats of motorsport has passed away, aged 90.

Moss is widely regarded as the greatest driver to never win a formula one world championship, finishing runner-up four times and third a further three times in an astonishing run between 1955-61. His 16 career grand prix wins are the most by any driver without winning a world title.

Moss made his grand prix debut in 1951 and raced sporadically over the next four seasons in largely privately-entered cars. His big break came in 1955 when Mercedes-Benz signed the Briton to partner the legendary Juan-Manuel Fangio.

Moss won his first grand prix that season, fittingly the British Grand Prix, in the process becoming the first Brit to win his home grand prix (pictured below). He finished second in that year’s title race, dutifully behind teammate Fangio. When Mercedes-Benz withdrew from all motorsport at the end of 1955, Fangio moved to Ferrari while Moss found a new home at Maserati.

He finished runner-up – to Fangio, again – in the championship in 1956 and ’57. The following season should have been his crowning glory, but in what defined Moss as a racer and as gentleman, he finished second behind compatriot Mike Hawthorn.

Moss had won the Portuguese Grand Prix that year in his Vanwall, beating home Hawthorn’s Ferrari in second place. However, Hawthorn had been involved in an incident during the race which drew the ire of officials, who disqualified him from second place.

Moss, witness to the incident, felt Hawthorn had been unfairly disqualified so mounted a defence for his rival and friend, insisting the disqualification be overturned. It was, and Hawthorn was reinstated to second place and the seven championship points that came with it. Moss lost the title to Hawthorn by a single point.

Moss, who won four races that season to Hawthorn’s one reflected on the decision in a Reuters interview in 2009.

"I felt that it was quite wrong and I went and gave evidence on Mike's behalf and said no way should he be disqualified," Moss recalled. "They obviously gave him his points back and that took the title from me."

It was the closest he would come to tasting championship success.

Moss retired from grand prix racing in 1962, following a heavy crash at Goodwood in 1962 that left him paralysed for six months.

Moss continued to race in historic events up until his official retirement from all competition in 2011, aged 81.

Moss was a regular in Australia, competing in many historic events over the years and becoming a darling of the local racing scene for his effusive personality, engaging wit and ability to tell his many stories in a charming and self-deprecating manner. A regular visitor to the Australian Grand Prix, he was just as likely to be found mingling with fans in the support category paddock as he was hobnobbing inside F1's inner sanctum.

Outside of Formula 1, Moss competed in and regularly won races in all manner of categories. His career record of 212 race wins from 529 starts speak of a driver capable of driving fast in anything.

Nothing exemplified this more than his now legendary victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia, a 1000-mile race in Italy contested on public roads over the course of a single day. Moss, sharing a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR with motor racing journalist Denis Jenkinson, won the event in 10hr07m48s at an average speed of 160km/h, beating home Mercedes teammate Fangio by over half-an-hour. It has since been described by noted motorsport historian Doug Nye as the “most iconic single day's drive in motor racing history”.

Moss, knighted for his services to motorsport in 2000, retired from public life in 2018 after a lengthy illness.

He passed away peacefully in his Mayfair home on April 12, his wife, Lady Susan Moss at his side who said in an official statement, “He died as he lived, looking wonderful”.

Sir Stirling Moss, 1929-2020.