Widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, Sir Stirling Moss sadly passed away on Sunday at the age of 90 after a long battle with illness.
Despite never managing to win a World Championship, Moss was held in the very highest regard by those in motor sport for his achievements on the track, as well as his outstanding professionalism.
‘Legend’ is often over-used: in the case of Sir Stirling Moss, it hardly makes a start. Hero to many; the epitome of a brilliant driver with the purest of sporting ethics. Deepest sympathies to Lady Moss, who adored him – along with most of the nation. RIP.
— Maurice Hamilton (@MauriceHamilton) April 12, 2020
One striking example of that particular character trait was recalled by well-esteemed F1 journalist Maurice Hamilton when he joined Sunday Exclusive on talkSPORT to pay his respects to Moss.
Moss came agonisingly close to securing that elusive first world title in October 1958, but was pipped to the crown by the late Mike Hawthorn with just a single point separating the pair.
It was an act of sportsmanship ultimately cost the racing legend in the ninth race of that year’s championship, a decision Hamilton says Moss never regretted making.
“There’s a great story to that,” Hamilton said. “Stirling was runner-up four times in the world championship and the closest he got was 1958, and it went right down to the very last race.
“Two races prior to that Stirling Moss was in pole position and during the last lap Hawthorn lost control and started spinning around the track.
RIP to the legend Sterling Moss 🙏
✅ 500+ races
✅ 200+ wins
Incredible bravery showed in every race during a dangerous era for motorsport.
One of the true greats. 🏎 pic.twitter.com/vk3rhQaG2u
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) April 12, 2020
“In order to regain access to the track he had to go against the traffic in the escape road, so when the officials found out this they excluded him – hence he was going to score no points.
“But Stirling Moss, off his own back, went to the stewards and said he saw what had happened.
“He told them Mike wasn’t actually on the track at the time and was in fact on the pavement getting a push start – therefore the move wasn’t illegal.
“The stewards were in agreement with him, so Hawthorn retained his place in second and was awarded seven points – which ultimately decided the championship.”
This hilarious story involving Sir Stirling Moss and a police officer that proves why ex-Formula One driver is a true legend
He continued: “When I interviewed Stirling about this many years ago I brought that up and said, ‘Did you not think at that time that doing that might cost you the championship?’
“He looked at me as if I was talking some sort of foreign language, and said: ‘No boy, that never crossed my mind. The stewards were wrong to penalise him, there’s no question about it. The correct decision was made’.
“He didn’t understand the concept that a lot of people have in this world, who think about themselves before anyone else.
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Formula One legend Sir Stirling Moss dies aged 90 after long battle with illness
“In his mind he felt it was unsportsmanlike that the stewards were penalising Mike in that way. That act pretty much summed up the type of guy Stirling Moss was.”
That heartwarming gesture became all the more poignant when Hawthorn tragically died in a car accident in January 1959.
Rest in peace, Sir Stirling Moss. A true gentleman in every sense.