British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90 following a long illness.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time, even though he did not win the World Championship.
Moss retired from public life in January 2018 because of ongoing health problems.
“It was one lap too many, he just closed his eyes,” said his wife Lady Moss.
Moss previously spent 134 days in hospital after suffering a chest infection while on holiday in Singapore in December 2016.
Moss’ former team Mercedes said motorsport had “lost not only a true icon and a legend, but a gentleman”, while 1996 F1 champion Damon Hill said Moss “launched all the other careers of British racing drivers who went on to become world champions”.
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.”
‘Sir Stirling held a unique status in motor racing’
Moss won 16 of the 66 F1 races he competed in from 1951 to 1961 and became the first British driver to win a home grand prix in 1955 at Aintree.
He famously lost out on the F1 title in 1958 to compatriot Mike Hawthorn after vouching for his rival and preventing him being disqualified when he was accused of reversing on track in the late-season Portuguese Grand Prix.
Four times a runner-up in the F1 drivers’ championship, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1961 and was knighted in 2000.
Together with his fine F1 career, Moss was regarded as a motor racing all-rounder and racked up a total of 212 victories in all categories.
He was an outstanding rally driver and in 1955 set a new course record in winning the famous Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile race around Italy.
Moss was effectively forced to retire from top-level motorsport in 1962 after a crash at Goodwood left him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for six months.
However, he continued to race in historic cars and legends events until the age of 81.
Moss is survived by his third wife, Susie, their son Elliot, and daughter Allison from an earlier marriage.
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.
“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.”
‘A true icon’ – motorsport pays tribute
Moss’ former team Mercedes: “Today, the sporting world lost not only a true icon and a legend, but a gentleman. The team and the Mercedes Motorsport family have lost a dear friend. Sir Stirling, we’ll miss you.”
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.”
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton: “Today we say goodbye to Sir Stirling Moss, the racing legend. I certainly will miss our conversations. Sending my prayers and thoughts to his family. May he rest in peace.”
FIA president Jean Todt: “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 world champion Mario Andretti: “Just heard the very sad news my dear friend Stirling Moss has died. He was my hero and such a kind man beloved by everyone. He was a true giant in our sport and will be missed forever. My deepest sympathy to his devoted wife Susie. Rest in peace, Racer.”
BRDC president and former F1 driver David Coulthard: “A truly great character and gentlemen who will be sorely missed by all who had the fortune of knowing him.”
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.”