John Surtees: The Only MotoGP and Formula 1 Champion

It's highly unlikely for a leading MotoGP racer to venture to Formula 1 and then end up winning a championship. In the 1960s the unforgettable John Surtees accomplished that difficult task.
John Surtees: The Only MotoGP and Formula 1 Champion

Last update: 06 September, 2019

John Surtees is seen as a role model for many racers. His fame is due to the fact that he was the only racer in history who managed to win both the Formula 1 and the MotoGP championshipsTo date, no one has been able to match his achievements.

In the following article, we’ll share all you need to know about the sporting career of John Surtees. He was an Englishman who dedicated his life to the motor world. In addition to his talent, he’s one of the most beloved and valued racers in history.

 John Surtees as a motorcycle rider

At first, John Surtees was a motorcycle racer and he was part of the World Championships for eight seasons. His debut was in 1952 and he left the World Cup in 1960 to pursue a career in Formula 1.

From 1952 to 1956 he went unnoticed in MotoGP, that changed, however, when was signed by the Augusta team. It was then that he achieved his first victory and became champion of the 500cc category.

He remained with the Augusta team for the rest of his time in the 500cc category. Between 1958 to 1960 he won several championships in the 350cc and 500cc categories.

Although his career in MotoGP only lasted for a few years, his trajectory in the motorcycle World Cup was brilliant. He won a total of seven world championships and 38 individual victories. He undoubtedly earned himself a place in MotoGP history.

John Surtees: a Formula 1 racer who’ll always be remembered

In 1960 John Surtees decided to make the jump to Formula 1. He formed part of the grid for thirteen seasons as a driver for different teams. To everyone’s surprise, Surtees did quite well in Formula 1.

John Surtees F1

His performance was spectacular from the first moment. During his second race in Formula 1, he crossed the finish line in second place as a driver for Lotus. This happened during the Monaco Grand Prix, which is one of the most technical F1 circuits.

His best performance in Formula 1 occurred when he signed with Ferrari in 1963. That same year, he achieved his first victory as a top-class racer. He became world champion the following year.

After four years as a driver for Ferrari, John Surtees moved on to several different teams. During that time, he accumulated a number of withdrawals. His last years in Formula 1 were risky since he had to take on new challenges.

After winning both the MotoGP and Formula 1 titles, he had another challenge to fulfill: creating his own team. He did this by creating Team Surtees. He raced with Team Surtees for three years before retiring and moving on to managing.

After driving the McLaren M7C, he decided to build his own car. He then expanded to create single-seater vehicles for the Formula 500 and Formula 2.

John surtees ferrari


John Surtees retired from Formula 1 in 1972, however, his connection to the motor world lasted his entire life. He remained manager of his Formula 1 team until 1978 when he was unable to continue due to issues with funding.

He later continued in the motor world by accompanying his son Henry Surtees. Henry suffered a fatal accident as a Formula 2 racer and he lost his life in 2009. A tire hit his head in the middle of the race and unfortunately, his life couldn’t be saved. This was a very difficult time for Surtees Senior. He died in 2017 at the age of 83.

John Surtees was always a beloved and valued member of the world of motorsports. After his retirement, he was named Legend of MotoGPHe was also inducted in the Order of the British Empire.

Ferrari also honored him after his death by creating a line of five streetcars which were painted white and blue. It was an emotional way to remember the time he spent with Ferrari.

John Surtees was more than a champion. He managed to earn the love, respect, and admiration of the motorsport world. He was a man who knew how to perform in both MotoGP and Formula 1.

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