In may ways, Sir Stirling Moss was one of the greatest Formula 1 champions of all time and yet, one small detail is normally missing from that statement, he never secured the actual F1 world title. Despite that fact, there are few who believe he isn’t a champion such is the shadow he cast on motorsport.
Winning 16 of the 66 races he entered in F1 between 1951 and 1961 was no small feat and his selfless action of defending Mike Hawthorn from being disqualified at the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix all but assured Moss would lose the title that year.
That alone is quite a career in motorsport but it would ignore the 212 total victories he celebrated because Moss was not just an F1 driver, he was a race car driver full stop. His amazing rally drive in 1955 at the famous Mille Miglia was the stuff of legends as he broke records in his Mercedes for that 1,000-mile race around Italy.
Most retired from racing in 1962 after a serious accident placed him in a coma for several weeks and in recuperation for six months. Despite that, he participated in historic race car events until he was 81.
Moss was a proud member of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) and perhaps they put it best.
“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,” said the BRDC.
“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.”
FIA president Jean Todt said: “Very sad day. Stirling Moss has left us after a long fight. He was a true legend in motor sport and he will remain so forever. My thoughts go out to his wife Susie, his family, his friends.”
Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan, speaking to Sky Sports: “You say he’s one of the greatest drivers not to win the world championship but actually he was one of the greatest drivers ever, you don’t need to enlarge on that. He was all-powerful. He was the one person that transcended the sport.”
British former F1 world champion Damon Hill: “He launched all the other careers of British racing drivers who went on to become world champions of which he sadly was denied, but I think no-one ever regarded him as anything less than one of the greats.”
The last quote is from F1 world champion, Damon Hill, and as an aside, both Damon and I share something in common with the late Sir Stirling Moss…all three of us share the same birthday. September 17th.
Moss is what many call a legend and that’s true. I think Eddie Jordan said it best when he said that Moss was not just one of the greatest to never earn a title but he was one of the greatest drivers full stop.