Former Formula 1 and motorcycling world champion John Surtees died at 83
Crowned in 1964 with Ferrari in Formula One (F1), John Surtees was the dean of the world champion drivers since the disappearance of Jack Brabham. After winning seven world championship motorsport titles, the British went into F1 and won the world title. To date, he is the only champion to have been crowned on two and four wheels. He was 83 years old and died of respiratory complications on 10 March 2017.
John Surtees was hospitalized last month for respiratory failure at the Saint George Hospital in London. The members of the Surtees family have announced the sad news. "John was a loving husband, a father, a brother and a friend," said the family's release. "He was also one of the great motorsporters and he continued to work tirelessly, until recently with the Henry Surtees Foundation and the Buckmore Karting Circuit."
The name of John Surtees may not be familiar to the youngest generation, but he was a living legend of motorsport. Born on February 11, 1934, John Surtees was seven times world champion of motorcycle, winning his first race at the Ulster GP of 1955 and then racking up an incredible series of 38 wins in 49 GP! He was crowned World Champion 350 in 1958, 1959 and 1960, while at the same time signing the titles in 500 in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960.
John Surtees then turned away from the GP after a last victory in Monza, to start a career on four wheels, winning a second place in his first GP of F1 and signing pole in the third! This led him to win the 1964 F1 championship with Ferrari.
Surtees then tried his luck as a F1 team-maker and builder, with less success, however, until the late 1970s. His son Henry followed in his footsteps but died in a race in 2009.
John Surtees is also known for his charitable foundation, the Henry Surtees Foundation, which helps injured youth recover and develop their abilities.
Surtees had been hospitalized in February for respiratory problems and died of complications. Scuderia Ferrari associated with the pain of his loved ones and tweeted: “John Surtees, Motorsport legend and 1964 World Champion with Ferrari, passed away. Our thoughts are with his family.”
British Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton reacted: “I just heard about John Surtees. To end the day with that kind of news is very sad. He was a legend of the sport – a lovely guy who did so much. It’s a shock to everyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.” Jenson Button posted: “Today we lost one of the all time greats on two and four wheels. We will miss you John....” Former driver and commentator Martin Brundle tweeted: “Rest in Peace John Surtees, a great champion in every respect. Sadly he’ll never get the Knighthood he deserved. Condolences to the family.” Another F1 commentator Murray Walker told the BBC that: "it is an absolute hammer blow for me and for British motorsport in general. I have been privileged to commentate on him and to know him as a friend and he's undoubtedly one of the greatest people who's ever lived in the history of motorsport."
John Surtees was awarded an MBE in 1959, the same year he won the Sports Personality of the Year award, the OBE in 2009 and the CBE in 2016.
John Surtees is survived by wife, Jane, and two daughters Leonora and Edwina and they told that “funeral details will be announced in due course.”
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