Sir Stirling Moss dies at the age of 90

Motor racing great Sir Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90.

His wife Lady Moss told the PA news agency he died peacefully at his London home following a long illness.

"It was one lap too many," she said. "He just closed his eyes."

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Sir Stirling Moss: A life behind the wheel
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Sir Stirling Moss: A life behind the wheel
Sir Stirling Moss, F1 great, dies aged 90
Portrait of auto racer Stirling Moss, London, England, circa 1963 (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, Mercedes W196, Grand Prix of Great Britain, Aintree, England, July 16, 1955. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
CHICHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Sir Stirling Moss sitting in his Mercedes before driving up the hill at Goodwood on June 27, 2015 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
CHICHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Sir Stirling Moss sitting in his Mercedes before driving up the hill at Goodwood on June 27, 2015 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Sir Stirling Moss’ 1955 Mille Miglia Victory in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #722
A classic Aston Martin raced by Sir Stirling Moss has become the most expensive British car after it was bought at auction for a whopping £17.5 MILLION.
Sir Stirling Moss dies at the age of 90
Sir Stirling Moss dies at the age of 90
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Luxury dealer H.R. Owen has sold a new Ferrari 812 Superfast in a custom-ordered livery, based on the legendary Rob Walker Ferrari 250 SWB raced by Sir Stirling Moss
Luxury dealer H.R. Owen has sold a new Ferrari 812 Superfast in a custom-ordered livery, based on the legendary Rob Walker Ferrari 250 SWB raced by Sir Stirling Moss
How Sir Stirling Moss dodged goats to win unique 1957 Pescara Grand Prix
How Sir Stirling Moss dodged goats to win unique 1957 Pescara Grand Prix
A classic Aston Martin raced by Sir Stirling Moss has become the most expensive British car after it was bought at auction for a whopping £17.5 MILLION.
The 1956 DBR1 which sold for £17.5 MILLION. See story SWMCLAREN.A classic Aston Martin raced by Sir Stirling Moss yesterday (Sat) became the most expensive British car after it was bought for a staggering £17.5 MILLION. The 1956 DBR1 was built to be raced at Le Mans and has been labelled the "most important" Aston Martin ever produced. It was the headline lot at RM Sotheby's Monterey sale in California and drew a huge crowd when it crossed the auction block on Friday night.
Motor Authority
The Maserati 420M Eldorado driven by Stirling Moss at a classic cars trade show in Stuttgart, Germany, 02 March 2017. Around 1550 exhibitors are displaying their most beautiful classic cars between the 02.03.17 and the 05.03.17. Photo: Lino Mirgeler/dpa | usage worldwide (Photo by Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 29: Stirling Moss, c 1950s. " Stirling Moss (born 1929), English racing driver, won many major races in the 1950s, including the British Grand Prix (1955 and 1957) and the Mille Miglia. Between 1951 and 1961 he won 16 races from 66 starts. Moss retired from competition in 1962 after a crash." (Photo by Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM : English racing driver Moss in the lead. Stirling Moss (born 1929) won many major races in the 1950s, including the British Grand Prix (1955 and 1957) and the Mille Miglia. Between 1951 and 1961 he won 16 races from 66 starts. Moss retired from competition in 1962 after a crash at Goodwood, Sussex. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss in hospital after a car crash on the A41 road near Newport. September 1959. (Photo Peter Stubbs/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM : Stirling Moss (born 1929) won many major races in the 1950s, including the British Grand Prix (1955 and 1957) and the Mille Miglia. Between 1951 and 1961 he won 16 races from 66 starts. Moss retired from competition in 1962 after a crash at Goodwood, Sussex. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, BRM P25, Grand Prix of Great Britain, Aintree, England, July 18, 1959. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres, Nurburgring Nordschleife, 07 June 1959. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Moss, Stirling *17.09.1929-racing driver, GB- 1959 (Photo by von der Becke/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Jean Behra, Stirling Moss, Ferrari 246, Cooper-Climax T51, Grand Prix of the Netherlands, Circuit Park Zandvoort, 31 May 1959. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
Le pilote de course britannique Stirling Moss pendant un répit le 2 août 1959 à Berlin, Allemagne. (Photo by KEYSTONE-FRANCE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Stirling Moss-Jack Brabham's Aston Martin DBR1-300 in the Dunlop Curve just after pits area, Le Mans, France, 22 June 1958. (Photo by: GP Library/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, Chevrolet Corvette SS , Sebring 12 Hours, Sebring, 23 March 1957. Stirling Moss trying the experimental Zora Duntov designed Chevrolet Corvette SS during practice for the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
July 1956: Racing driver Stirling Moss in action during the Silverstone Grand Prix. Original Publication: Picture Post - 8965 - Silverstone Grand Prix - 1956 - unpub. (Photo by Bert Hardy/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, Maserati 250F, Grand Prix of Monaco, Monaco, May 13, 1956. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
"British racing driver Stirling Moss sitting at the table with his navigator, British journalist Denis Jenkinson at the Mille Miglia Automobile Race. Italy, April 1956 (Photo by Carlo Bavagnoli\Mondadori via Getty Images)"
"British racing driver Stirling Moss shaving with an electric shaver at the Mille Miglia Automobile Race. Italy, April 1956 (Photo by Carlo Bavagnoli\Mondadori via Getty Images)"
17th July 1955: English motor-racing driver Stirling Moss, the winner's laurels around his neck, holds up the Grand Prix Cup after winning the British Grand Prix at the Aintree motor circuit, Liverpool. He is the first British driver to win this race. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss, Johhn Surtees, Grand Prix of Mexico, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 25 October 1964. Stirling Moss interviewing John Surtees after he clinched the1964 World Championship for drivers. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)
Stirling Moss taking Woodcote Corner during a test which resulted in stirling's decision to quit motor racing for good. He said that his reactions were 'down a little'. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Sir Stirling Moss dies at the age of 90
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SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 21: Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner speaks to an F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss prior to the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 21, 2014 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography via Getty Images)
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Though Moss famously never won the Formula One title, he was regarded as one of the greatest ever drivers as he survived and thrived in the sport's most dangerous era.

Enzo Ferrari once called Moss the greatest driver in the world while five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio – who beat Moss to the title three times between 1955 and 1957 – called Moss the best of his era.

Moss finished runner-up in the championships standings four times and finished third three times in a career during which he won 16 Grands Prix.

In an age when racing drivers competed in several different disciplines alongside Formula One, Moss won a total of 212 of the 529 races he entered in his career.

Born in London in 1929, Moss was the son of amateur racing driver Alfred and his wife Aileen.

Motor Racing - Formula One - British Grand Prix - Stirling Moss - Aintree
Moss' first Formula One victory came in the 1955 British Grand Prix (PA)

He began his career in 1948 behind the wheel of his father's car. In the early years of his Formula One career, he often struggled due to his machinery, preferring to drive British cars rather than their often superior foreign rivals.

But his breakthrough came in a Mercedes as he took his first Formula One win in 1955 at the British Grand Prix at Aintree, becoming the first British winner of the event.

It was the beginning of the best period of his career as he challenged for the title year after year, ultimately unsuccessfully.

His sportsmanship cost him the title in 1958 when he defended the actions of rival Mike Hawthorne following a spin at the Portuguese Grand Prix, sparing Hawthorne a six-point penalty. Hawthorne went on to beat Moss to the title by a single point.

"I had no hesitation in doing it," Moss recalled many years later. "I can't see how this is open to debate. The fact that he was my only rival in the championship didn't come into my thinking. Absolutely not."

Stirling Moss File Photo
Moss was knighted in 2000 (John Stillwell/PA)

A heavy crash at Goodwood in 1962 left Moss in a coma for a month, and partially paralysed for six months.

Moss officially retired in the wake of that crash, though he would continue to take part in occasional events until 1981.

He was knighted in the New Year Honours list in 2000 for services to motor racing.

Moss was taken ill with a chest infection while on a cruise in Singapore just before Christmas 2016.

He was transferred to a London hospital and finally to his Mayfair home.

News of his death on Sunday brought tributes from the world of motorsport and beyond.

His former team Mercedes tweeted: "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."

Commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said on Twitter: "RIP Sir Stirling Moss. A mighty racer and gentleman. He had a press on style on the track and in life. Remarkable man. Survived the most dangerous era of motorsport and died today aged 90. He had such great stories to tell, and it was a privilege to know him."

Johnny Herbert added on his account: "Sad sad news that legend Sir Stirling Moss has passed. World Champion in all our eyes."

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