KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- Sir Stirling Moss never won the motor racing world title yet the circuit hero who has died at 90 remains the sport’s greatest British romantic hero.
Moss became a household favourite in the 1950s, in the days when racing drivers ‘owned’ an identity because – to an extent – their faces could be seen in a manner which safety precautions have denied today’s grand prix stars such as even Lewis Hamilton.
He won 16 grand prix races in a far shorter schedule and was four times world title runner-up. But he entered all forms of competition – which meant up to 60 races in a year – and drove 84 different makes of car across the course of his career.
But for his sense of sportsmanship, Moss could have been Britain’s first world champion in 1958 instead of compatriot Mike Hawthorn. He lost the title by a single point that year after asking stewards to reinstate disqualified Hawthorn at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
In 1955 he was signed by Mercedes-Benz to race in F1 alongside the great Juan Manuel Fangio, who beat him to the title.
However that year he also delivered one of the most exceptional drives of his generation during the Mille Miglia, a punishing road race in Italy. Driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR he set a record and beat Fangio by 32 minutes.
Moss was known for enjoying life to the full in a manner certainly befitting a superstar of today.
He was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1961, the year of his forced retirement after a crash which left him in a coma. He went on to run a property business with his family as well as racing at historic meetings before retiring from race driving in 2011, at the age of 81.
In his later life, he suffered from health problems and spent 134 days in hospital in 2016 after suffering a chest infection in Singapore in 2016.