Tributes To The Only Man To Win a Formula 1 & Motorcycle World Championship

John Surtees and Yoshio Nakamura (team director) at the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix.
Image By; Evers, Joost / Anefo / neg. stroken @ Wikipedia

By Tom Hasker, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

John Surtees passed away recently after suffering from an existing respiratory condition at St George's Hospital. The only man to have won a Grand Prix World Championship on both 2 and 4 wheels has been respected and remembered by the motor racing world.

To win a world championship in Grand Prix racing (now Formula 1) is hard. Ask any winner from any time in the sport's history and they will tell you it takes more than a smile. John Surtees was the only person to have made it to the top of his craft in both Formula 1 and motorcycle racing (he won the 500cc motorcycle title 4 times!).

Here are just a few of the tweets from those who knew and respected Mr Surtees;

Sky F1 Commentator Martin Brundle...

Sky's F1 Commentator Natalie Pinkman

Current Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg...

Zak Brown, CEO of Mclaren...

The Guardian said of his character and talent:

"Surtees was a gentleman on and off the track from a different era of motor sport, when socialising with competitors was the norm, something he enjoyed enormously and with a ready wit, bewitching smile and a wealth of entertaining stories he went on to continue to charm everyone he had contact with subsequently.

He was equally unafraid to speak to his mind, often allied to a steely stare and face criticism in defence of his views. That single-mindedness was reflected on the track, where his skill and natural talent were matched by the seriousness with which he took the task and the bravery and effort he put into it. Colin Chapman identified this when originally bringing him to Lotus but Surtees opted to drive for Cooper in 1961 and Lola in 1962.

He always maintained his driving style was centred around having feel for the machine beneath him. “You try and go along and become part of it,” he said in 2015: “Through the seat of your pants and the way your hands are on the steering wheel, you get that essence of what the car is telling you and that is how you decide how close to the limit you can go and what the limit is.”"

John Surtees had a son called Henry Surtees who used to race in Formula 2, but was tragically killed in an accident at Brands Hatch in 2009 when he was 18. Following this bereavement, John Surtees set up the Henry Surtees Foundation to help people recovering from brain and physical injuries. The foundation also supports motorsports related educational programs.

True legends leave legacies that far outlive them. Through his involvement in motorsport and the foundation that he set up John Surtees will be remembered and respected for many years to come.

For more on how the F1 family remembers it's legends, check out Daniel Riccardo paying tribute to Jules Bianchi.

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