John Surtees - Il grande John

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John Surtees was motorsport royalty, simply put. Not just for the mere fact that he held the outstanding distinction of being the only man to have won World Championships on two and four wheels, but also for the principles of commitment and courage he embodied.

F1i looks back on the various junctures which guided Big John's life and times in Formula 1.


The son of a south London motorcycle dealer, John Surtees' affinity with anything mechanical was established at birth. His first racing experience was as a passenger... in his father's sidecar. The works Norton team enrolled his skills for a bout of motorcycle racing, after which he joined MV Agusta for an incredibly fruitful partnership which led to six world titles in the 350cc and 500cc categories!



Surtees' cross-over to cars was almost happenstance. An exclusivity clause with Count Agusta forbid him from supplementing his 1960 race programme with the Italian team, but the contract said nothing about racing cars! So he followed the advice of his good friend Mike Hawthorn and added two more wheels to his repertoire, "John, give cars a go, they don't fall over as easily!"