John Surtees at the 1965 Race of Champions meeting at Brands Hatch in England.

Story highlights

Surtees dies in hospital after illness

Hailed as one of the greatest drivers

Won F1 and motorbike world titles

CNN  — 

“A gentleman and a true legend.”

The motorsport world has paid tribute to one its greatest all-round racers, John Surtees, who passed away Friday at the age of 83.

The British driver is the only man to have won a world title on both four wheels and two.

“Ferrari has lost one of its greatest drivers,” said the Italian team, with which Surtees won the Formula One championship in 1964.

The Englishman switched to F1 in 1960 after a stellar motorcycling career in which he won four 500cc world championships and three in the 350cc category with another Italian team, MV Agusta.

Four of his six F1 race victories came during a three-year stint at Ferrari, where he also contributed to titles in the 1963 and ’65 World Sportscar Championship.

Surtees was hospitalized last month with a respiratory condition, F1’s official website reported, and died with his family at his side.

“We deeply mourn the loss of such an incredible, kind and loving man as well as celebrate his amazing life,” his family said in a statement.

“He has set a very real example of someone who kept pushing himself at his peak and one who continued fighting until the very end.”

Surtees’ son Henry died during a Formula Two race in 2009, and his father set up a charity in his honor.

He is survived by his wife Jane and their daughters Leonora and Edwina, the F1 website said.

Former world champion Damon Hill described Surtees – who drove in 111 F1 races in total – as a “true great motorsport legend.”

After leaving Ferrari, Surtees joined the nascent Honda team and delivered a notable victory at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth overall in the 1967 season.

Former F1 driver turned TV pundit Martin Brundle lamented that Surtees, who was awarded a CBE in the 2016 Queen’s honors list, did not live long enough to be knighted.

Even late in life, Surtees was a regular visitor at F1 races and motorsport events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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