In Stirling Moss, who died Sunday following a long illness at the age of 90 years, Formula 1 has lost one of its legends.
And yet, despite a record of 16 wins (which earned him the 16th highest of all time) in 66 starts, the british driver has never been titled in the discipline-queen of the motor sport.
While most observers have described as the champion without a crown, Moss has never regretted not having been able to obtain this ultimate consecration.
“I am aware that I was faster than some of my other opponents who have won a world crown, he said a few years ago during one of his last public appearances. But, he continued, managing to not register that a few points do not interest me.
“I preferred to lose by rolling quickly rather than to win by driving slowly. “
Praise for the Little prince
In 1983, the author of these lines had been invited, in the company of other journalists, to an event that will bring together Moss and another major figure in the F1, the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, at the circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
It was a year after the tragic death of the Little prince at Zolder, in Belgium.
Fangio and Moss, former teammates and rivals, had come to participate in the filming of the documentary Formula Villeneuve, directed by Yves Hébert, who was to be
released the following year.
In the same way that Fangio, five-time world champion, Moss was glowing at the place of Gilles Villeneuve.
“Gilles had this quality that is given to drivers of exception, had said Moss, the one to take all the means to succeed in F1. Regardless of the car he had in his hands. Seldom have we seen a pilot so determined and brave in the story. In fact, there was no limit.
“Unfortunately it happened too late in F1. At a time where the machine has replaced the man. “
All to say that the speech of Moss was similar to that of Villeneuve who, either, do not accept half-measures. Finishing second was not enough. The victory was the only goal.
Villeneuve (six wins in F1) is another one of those drivers that could be called the champion without crown.
In 1979, there had been the instructions of the team who were going to promote her team-mate Jody Scheckter at Ferrari, it would probably have been devoted. As in 1982, where, before his fatal accident, he
ran surely to the top honors.
Another example comes to mind, the one of Ronnie Peterson, who has attained the highest step of the podium on 10 occasions before losing her life at the start of the Italian Grand Prix 1979 at the wheel of a Lotus.
On several occasions during this year’s black, the Swede had, also, comply with the instructions for the benefit of Mario Andretti, who was going to ensure his championship at the end of this race is deadly
raced at Monza.
And we can quote other drivers. Think in particular to the new Zealander Chris Amon, who has never won a championship or even won a Grand Prix. But heck it was good !
The final word belongs to Moss, for which the notion of risk took its whole meaning, as Villeneuve indeed.
“The F1 modern are very beautiful cars, he said, but they are too safe. The big problem with security is that it comes to despise danger. However, in motor racing you don’t want to have this contempt. “
► Moss finished in second place in the championship of F1 drivers four times, from 1955 to 1958, including the first three years behind Fangio.