'It was one lap too many': British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss dies aged 90

British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90, his wife has confirmed.

His wife Lady Moss said he died peacefully at his London home following a long illness.

"It was one lap too many," she said. "He just closed his eyes."

Though Moss famously never won the Formula One title, he finished runner-up four times and came third three times in a career during which he won 16 Grands Prix.

His sportsmanship cost him the title in 1958 when he defended the actions of rival Mike Hawthorne following a spin at the Portuguese Grand Prix, sparing Hawthorne a six-point penalty. Hawthorne went on to beat Moss to the title by a single point.

Moss' first Grand Prix victory came in the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree as he became the first British driver to win the event.

In an age when racing drivers competed in several different disciplines alongside Formula One, Moss won a total of 212 of the 529 races he entered in his 14-year career, which began in 1948.

'A mighty racer and gentleman'

Sir Stirling Moss with wife Lady Moss in 2010. Credit: PA

Commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said on Twitter: "RIP Sir Stirling Moss. A mighty racer and gentleman. He had a press on style on the track and in life.

"Remarkable man. Survived the most dangerous era of motorsport and died today aged 90. He had such great stories to tell, and it was a privilege to know him."

Johnny Herbert added on his account: "Sad sad news that legend Sir Stirling Moss has passed.

"World Champion in all our eyes."

Mercedes, one of Moss' former teams, tweeted: "Today, the sporting world lost not only a true icon and a legend, but a gentleman.

"The Team and the Mercedes Motorsport family have lost a dear friend. Sir Stirling, we'll miss you."

The Goodwood Festival of Speed wrote: "It is with great sadness that all at Goodwood learn of the loss of our good friend Stirling.

"He was a central part of the history of Goodwood and our thoughts are with Lady Moss and his family today."

Moss retired in 1962 after a heavy crash at Goodwood which left him in a coma for a month.

Born in London in 1929, Moss was the son of amateur racing driver Alfred and his wife Aileen.

He was knighted in the New Year Honours list in 2000 for services to motor racing.

Silverstone, the home of British racing, paid its own tribute to Moss.

"It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of one of Great Britain's finest racing drivers, Sir Stirling Moss OBE, who passed away in the early hours of this morning at the age of 90 after a long illness," a statement read.

"In the history of motor racing, not just in his home country but also wherever he raced around the world, Sir Stirling held a unique status which continued throughout his life."