|First race||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||May 29, 1960||Race results|
|Last race||United States Grand Prix||Watkins Glen||October 8, 1972||Race results|
John Surtees earned himself a place in the history books as the only man to win the world championship on both two wheels and four, but it was no fleeting visit to Formula One, as he enjoyed a long career both in and outside of the car.
Having been brought up as the son of a three-time British sidecar champion, John was destined to race bikes. He won his first race when he was 17, and by the time he was 26 he had won seven world championships with the famous Italian MV Agusta team. In 1959 - before he had won his final title - his universal appeal had earned him a few tests in cars, and he was entered in to a race at Goodwood in an F3 Cooper by Ken Tyrrell. Surtees impressed, and in 1960 made the switch in to cars full time.
Colin Chapman had kept a keen eye on Surtees, and offered him a drive for Lotus in four races of the 1960 season. Surtees showed his competitiveness with second at the British Grand Prix, and looked set to win in Portugal after taking pole position and setting the fastest lap before a radiator problem forced him to retire. Still, he was a man in high demand and was left with a number of offers for the 1961 season. One such offer was from Chapman to partner Jim Clark, but Surtees chose to drive a Cooper. The move yielded no podiums, so he switched to Lola for 1962, which saw some improvement but no race wins as he finished fourth in the championship.
His stock was still high in Italy though, and Enzo Ferrari signed Surtees in 1963. The partnership had an encouraging first season, as Surtees won at the Nurburgring for his first world championship victory, and was on the podium on two other occasions. He was unable to challenge Jim Clark for the title though, retiring from three of the last four races and being disqualified for a push start in the other.
The following season started badly too, failing to finish three of the first four grands prix. However, another impressive victory in Germany kick-started Surtees challenge, and he won in Italy along with two other podiums to go in to the final race of 1964 five points behind championship leader Graham Hill, and four ahead of Clark. Hill was pushed off the track by Surtees' Ferrari team-mate Lorenzo Bandini, leaving Clark leading with Surtees third. As it stood, Clark would snatch the title, but his engine blew on the final lap, relegating him to fifth and leaving Surtees with the second place he needed to become world champion.
Despite his success, Surtees' argumentative nature could cause issues as he struggled to leave his emotions on the track. Following a less competitive 1965 season, he suffered life-threatening injuries during CanAm testing in Canada. His steely resolve saw him battle back to full fitness to take victory at Spa in the second race of the following season, before an ill-fated trip to Le Mans. After being paired with Ludovico Scarfiotti against his wishes, Surtees quit Ferrari and moved to Cooper for the rest of the year. Despite being unable to challenge Jack Brabham, he won in Mexico to finish runner-up in the championship.
Surtees moved to head up Honda's challenge in 1967, and stuck two fingers up at Ferrari with a win at Monza. Honda were uncompetitive the following season though, and after the death of Jo Schlesser in the French Grand Prix at Rouen the team withdrew from Formula One. A disappointing year in a BRM followed before the fiercely determined Surtees took matters back in to his own hands by starting his own team.
After two unsuccessful seasons Surtees retired from competitive driving to oversee the team full time. A second place for Mike Hailwood at Monza was as good as it got, as a race win proved elusive. Surtees' health was also a problem, with medical problems as a result of his life-threatening CanAm crash. The team folded in 1978.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Fiercely competitive and driven, his versatility meant he could get the best out of most cars and most conditions. His fierce independence and desire to better himself were also a hindrance, as his bitter exit from Ferrari also marked the last time he drove a car capable of winning the world championship.
Snatching the 1964 world championship at the last race of the season in Mexico when Jim Clark's engine failed on the last lap of the grand prix.
Physically, his crash in CanAm testing in Ontario almost took his life, while mentally never having a car bearing his name win a world championship race was a disappointment for a man so used to success.
"Everything you need to get that relaxed driving that brings consistency only comes with practice."
"It (the car and engine) was feeling bloody good in practice, which in some ways didn't please Dragoni. The last thing he wanted for me was to be on pole!" - On the difficult relationship he had with Ferrari team manager Eugenio Dragoni.
"I was a bit nuts, really."
Already an MBE, Surtees was awarded an OBE in 2008.
He remains the only man to win the world championship on both bikes and in Formula One.
His son, Henry, followed his footsteps in to motor racing before he was tragically killed by a fellow competitor's loose wheel in an F2 race at Brands Hatch on 20 July 2009. He was just 18.
September 7, 2014
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September 7, 2013
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July 13, 2013
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