Sir Stirling Moss, four times a runner-up in the Formula 1 World Championship, has passed away aged ninety after a long illness.
The Briton, widely regarded as the best driver never to have won a world title, had retired from the public eye in recent years after a series of illnesses, with Moss having hung up his helmet after a historic Le Mans event in 2011, aged eighty-one!
Moss made his Formula 1 debut in the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix, placing eighth with HW motors, and during his first few years in the sport, his appearances were sporadic, with his first podium finish coming in the 1954 Belgian Grand Prix.
It was 1955 that Moss got his big break in Formula 1, joining the Mercedes-backed Daimler Benz AG outfit, and his first victory came later that season at the British Grand Prix at Aintree. However, he fell short in the championship, finishing second to team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio.
He moved across to Maserati in 1956, scoring two more victories in Monaco and Italy, but again Fangio denied him the championship, this time by just three points. It was much the same story in 1957, with the Argentine winning four races to Moss’ three on his way to his fifth and final World Championship, with the only race victory not being taken by the duo coming in the Indianapolis 500, which neither driver attempted despite being on the Formula 1 calendar.
Four more wins came in 1958, although Moss, now driving for Vanwall, again fell short in the championship, with Mike Hawthorn becoming the first British Formula 1 World Champion by just a solitary point. It was the closest Moss would come to clinching the title, but it meant he finished second in the standings in four consecutive seasons.
His 1959 season saw him switch between Cooper and BRM, with two more victories coming his way. However, he could only finish third in the championship standings, a position he would repeat again in both 1960 and 1961. His final Grand Prix victory came at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife.
A heavy crash at Goodwood on Easter Monday in 1962 left Moss in a coma, and he opted to retire not long after recovering feeling that his ability had waned enough to leave him unable to compete at the highest level. He started sixty-six Grand Prix and won sixteen of them, as well as taking sixteen pole positions and securing nineteen fastest laps. The only thing missing from his resume in Formula 1 was that elusive World Championship crown that no one would have begrudged him.
Moss shows his Magic in Mille Maglia Road Race
Moss’ career however was not just limited to Formula 1. Indeed, the Briton was an adept hand in anything he could drive. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on ten occasions, and finished second twice in 1953 and 1956, the first with Jaguar and the latter with Aston Martin. He was also a double winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1954 and 1957.
One of his most memorable and remarkable triumphs however came in the Mille Maglia road race in Italy in 1955, alongside navigator Denis Jenkinson, who at the time was a journalist. It was a titanic battle with the likes of Piero Taruffi, Eugenio Castellotti and Karl Kling and Fangio, but despite an early crash into some straw bales, he stormed to victory in a time of ten hours, seven minutes and forty-eight seconds, with his average speed of 98.53 mph a record for the race. The record still remains, with the event having ceased just two years later.
Moss was a regular visitor to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and given a Knight Bachelor for services to motor sport in the New Year Honours list in 2000. He was also given the FIA gold medal in 2006 for his outstanding contribution to motorsport.
Everyone at The Checkered Flag offers our condolences to Lady Moss, as well as the family and friends of Sir Stirling Moss. A shining star has passed, but the legend will be remembered.