Sir Stirling Moss | The greatest driver never to win an F1 world championship

A solitary point separated first and second in the 1958 Formula 1 drivers' world championship.

Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn only picked up one race victory in the season, while another British driver, Stirling Moss, finished second in the championship and earned four wins from the 10-race season. 

Moss' Cooper-Climax was notoriously unreliable and he retired five times with Hawthorne only retiring three times in the season. 

But the crucial moment in the season came at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Boavista on the 24 August where Moss' sporting principles got in the way of a maiden world championship win. 

Hawthorne spun and stalled his car on an uphill section and was accused by the stewards of reversing on track after Moss had told Hawthorne to steer downhill, against traffic, in order to jump-start the car. The stewards deemed this endangered fellow drivers and docked the Ferrari man six points.

Aintree, England. 18-20 July 1957.

Image: Newspress

But Moss was having none of it and jumped to the defence of his championship rival and the decision was overturned by the stewards who handed Hawthorne back the six points for finishing in second place which was enough to see him pip Moss to the title. 

That season tells a story of the type of man and racing driver Moss was, he died at the age of 90 on Easter Sunday 2020 and will be remembered by many as the greatest driver to never win a world championship. 

Moss finished second four times and claimed 16 wins in 66 starts. A startling fact is that Moss had more race wins than world champions such as Alberto Ascari, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jenson Button. But the raw numbers don't do Moss' genius any help.  

Former Motorsport Magazine editor Andrew Frankel says Moss' driving style rarely saw him reach his personal limit, and the few occasions when it was needed, Moss always left a margin. He drove hard, not like a lunatic. There is a difference. 

Moss was born in London on September 17 1929. His parents both loved motorsport and his father Alfred finished 16th in the 1924 Indy 500, while his mother competed in hillclimb events and sister Pat dabbled in rallies. Clearly a family that loved motorsport. 

Moss is perhaps famously associated with Mercedes-Benz, in which he won the 1955 Mille Miglia in a 300 SLR, underpinned by the W196 F1 car. 

Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson averaged 157km/h over the 1597km course beating his contemporary Juan Manuel Fangio in another Mercedes.

A crash in 1962 at the Goodwood Easter meeting in a Lotus 18 at 193km/h, saw the 33-year-old suffer damage to his head and sent him into coma for a few weeks with his life was on the line. Once Moss had recovered from the crash he retired from racing and went back to Goodwood and did a solo test and found that driving fast racing cars didn't feel natural any longer, 

Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that Moss retired in his early thirties from competitive motor racing. A man with so much spare mental capacity that he once listened to the radio broadcast of the race commentary in a TT race he was leading. 

What a motorsport legend. Ciao Sir Stirling Moss. 


Image: Newspress

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