Premium

John Surtees, motorcycle and Formula One champion – obituary

John Surtees on his Manx Norton in 1955
John Surtees on his Manx Norton in 1955 Credit:  Central Press/Getty

John Surtees, who has died aged 83, was unique in being the only motorcycle as well as Formula One world champion. He had one of the most diverse careers in motorsport, competing in Formula Two as well as sports car racing, and ending as a constructor with his own Team Surtees.

Moving to Grand Prix car racing in 1960 after achieving seven motorcycle world titles, he became world champion with Ferrari four years later, a feat achieved by no one else in the history of motorsport before or since.

A loner by inclination and a single-minded character at times (who bore a remarkable resemblance to Cardinal Basil Hume in his later years), Surtees was utterly straightforward and honest.

He was ill-suited to the politicking of motor racing, especially where driving for Ferrari was concerned. Had he been prepared to compromise or go back on his word he might have achieved even more than he did.

His...

Premium

Subscribe now for full access or register to continue reading

Subscribe now for full access or register to continue

Register / free

No Payment details required

  • One Premium article per week
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Comment on articles

Premium / 30-day free trial

then only £2 per week, cancel anytime

  • Unlimited Premium articles
  • Exclusive Subscriber Events
  • Enjoy Telegraph Rewards
  • Comment on articles
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Complimentary digital access to The Washington Post
  • Find out more
Premium Promo
Subscribe today and explore Europe with Avios
Collect up to 20,000 Avios with an annual subscription
Terms and conditions apply
Please review our commenting policy