After the passing of Sir Stirling Moss on 12 April, aged 90, the world of Formula 1 has rightly stopped for a minute to remember a great man as well as a superb driver. In that ‘minute’ though, the debate as to which British driver truly is the best has also been provoked afresh.

It makes for a fascinating discussion, and shows much about the true values of racing fans. While Lewis Hamilton has undeniably soared ahead of all other countrymen in terms of championships won, he has done so in an era of impeccable safety compared to other title-winning Brits, largely doing so in a Mercedes machine without equal on the track.

Moss, meanwhile, was there at the very infancy of F1, where dicing with grave danger was merely an occupational hazard, even if cars were decidedly slower. Sir Stirling remains widely considered the best driver never to win a title, though there were several near-misses.

Moss’ Monaco Legacy – An Inspiration to Future Generations

One factor in the whole debate of where Moss and Hamilton stand, in relation to each other and their fellow British greats, is their respective histories at Monaco – a track on which every British champion in F1 history has fought for glory.

Indeed, such is the reverence in which that particular course is held, it forms part of motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’, sitting alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indy 500. As of April 2020, only Graham Hill has ever achieved that feat. Hamilton and Stewart are three-time victors at the circuit, but Hill is also the British king of Monaco, winning it five times.

Moss’ Monaco Legacy – An Inspiration to Future Generations

There are some drivers who are made to thrive on certain courses. In NASCAR, for instance, a driver’s history seems to be one of the main influences while betting throughout the schedule. Thus, it would have taken a particularly brave bettor to back Moss for multiple wins in Monaco, with three retirements following his maiden victory there.

Moss’ Monaco debut in F1 played out in 1955, the year which marked the first of four frustrating years in succession where he would finish second. His maiden appearance at the circuit in this competition was nondescript, yielding a 9th place finish. The following season, Moss switched to a Maserati 250F and won by a margin of just over 6s.

The hat-trick of Monaco retirements thereafter represented a huge test of character for Moss. The last of them came while Moss was racing under R.R.C. Walker Racing Team, occupying a Cooper T51 powered by a Climax FPF 2.5 L4 (or ‘Coventry Climax’). Remarkably, given how modern F1 teams can be undermined by below-par engines, all it took for Moss to renew his love for Monaco was a change of car.

Knowing full well that they had a supremely talented driver at their disposal, the R.R.C. Walker Racing Team switched to a Lotus 18, and the change was immediate. Moss won the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix by a margin of 52 seconds in his very first race inside the new chassis, representing the marque’s first victory on the track. The following year also yielded victory, though by just 3.6s ahead of a Ferrari trio thriving under the new 1.5l engine system.

Moss would never again grace Monaco after his third and final win there, but his double win on the back of three consecutive retirements there is a story that all British F1 drivers can look up to. As of 2020, Lewis Hamilton is equal with Moss, having won three prior Monaco Grands Prix. 2008, the season in which Hamilton won his first title by just a single point, marked his first, followed up by wins in 2016 and 2019.

This puts Hamilton’s win rate at Monaco below that of Moss, but as shown in the list of multiple winners, he is in excellent company. Now 35 years of age, Hamilton will know that his chances of getting five Monaco wins like Hill Sr are slim but sporting – the very type of chance upon which he thrives.

If he was to reach that mark, he would strengthen his claim to superlative greatness amongst his past F1 countrymen further still.


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11 F1 Fan comments on “Moss’ Monaco Legacy – An Inspiration to Future Generations

  1. James Ferguson

    It seems that you guys are determined to make this driver of color Lewis Hamilton) inferior to your favored driver of European background. Lewis Hamilton is without doubt the best driver on the circuit today in terms of driving skills, wins, and titles. Yet you will make almost any other driver his equal before you will concede that a man of color mastered this sport.

    • Chris Bullis

      Sorry, this is not a race issue that you want to make it. It’s a race era and type of racing issue. Lewis has been by far the best F1 driver for the past several years. Other than his short time with Mercedes early in his career, Moss drove inferior cars against the factory teams and still won. Stirling also won in every type of racing he entered, be it F1, sports cars, saloons etc. Lewis has not as yet, most likely due to contractual agreements. Moss, Clark, Hill, Fangio and others also drove in an era of dangerous cars on unsafe tracks where drivers died every month. No fat tires, downforce or techno wizardry. Lewis is the best in his era as were the others in theirs so don’t make it a color issue.

      • James Ferguson

        dont want to make this a race issue. I would just like to see this man receive the accolades you give the other drivers. Lewis may be driving in a faster and safer vehicle on better tracks. Never the less, he has to compete against the drivers of today, not yesteryear. He should get get his earned respect be he white, of  color or whatever. Be fair!!!

        • Chris Bullis

          I think I am being fair. Lewis is in my Top 10 if not Top 5 best drivers of all time along with Fangio, Senna (both of which are “non-European”), Clark, Moss and possibly Schumacher. This is even though he has been in arguably one of the best F1 cars his whole career. That being said, his talent is that of the very best drivers past, present or future and I applaud his reverence and accolades for his fellow Brit, Sir Stirling Moss.

        • Simon Saivil

          I see your point, or, perhaps, I don't. If the issue is what you state it to be, then, you should take it up with the media and ask them to stop pandering to Hamilton. Many others, upon seeing that, may follow and Mr. Hamilton will get more than well deserved recognition.

    • ReallyOldRacer

      "It seems that you guys are determined to make this driver of color Lewis Hamilton) inferior to your favored driver of European background."

      James, HAM is one of the best drivers in F1 history, but get off the skin color issue. He has also received more accolades than any F1 driver in history (possibly excepting Fangio). To say that he is underappreciated because of his skin color is ridiculous and an empty argument. PLEASE leave racial undertones out of our sport.

    • Simon Saivil

      I am not sure I agree with that. However, on the assumption that that is the case, I fail to see how you can keep a straight face and argue that criticising, or not supporting Lewis is either a latent or blatant racism. For better or worse Lewis has become a brand name in his own right and some are put off by that. I am turned off by Lewis and Alonso pretty much for the same reasons, although Alonso is white.

  2. James

    The fact that so many of you acknowledge and defend his place in F1 is refreshing and I applaud you all. However, If I see a slight on any driver in F1 because he is not given his due for a race driven, or races won or performance I will speak out. Hamilton does not need me as his spokesman, negotiator, or anything else. I spoke because of a perceived slight be that wrong or right. Be safe, keep racingand keep talking.

  3. Simon Saivil

    This Stirling Moss's title miss board is headlined upside down. Near miss is an actual hit. What is meant, and, presumably, intended, is a narrow miss.
    I pointed this out once before, and Leopold agreed and corrected it.
    Stirling Moss won no titles, therefore there were no titles nearly missed. There were "close but no cigar" seasons and consequently - narrow misses.


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