Motor racing great Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90.

His wife Lady Moss told the PA news agency 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 was regarded as one of the greatest ever drivers as he survived and thrived in the sport's most dangerous era.

Enzo Ferrari once called Moss the greatest driver in the world while five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio - who beat Moss to the title three times between 1955 and 1957 - called him the best of his era.

Moss finished runner-up in the championships standings four times and finished third three times in a career during which he won 16 Grands Prix.

Moss in action at the German Grand Prix in 1961

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 career.

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

He began his career in 1948 behind the wheel of his father's car. In the early years of his Formula One career, he often struggled due to his machinery, preferring to drive British cars rather than their often superior foreign rivals.

But his breakthrough came in a Mercedes as he took his first Formula One win in 1955 at the British Grand Prix at Aintree, becoming the first British winner of the event.

It was the beginning of the best period of his career as he challenged for the title year after year, ultimately unsuccessfully.

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.

"I had no hesitation in doing it," Moss recalled many years later. "I can't see how this is open to debate. The fact that he was my only rival in the championship didn't come into my thinking. Absolutely not."

A heavy crash at Goodwood in 1962 left Moss in a coma for a month, and partially paralysed for six months.

Moss officially retired in the wake of that crash, though he would continue to take part in occasional events until 1981.

He was taken ill with a chest infection while on a cruise in Singapore just before Christmas 2016.

Moss was transferred to a London hospital and finally to his Mayfair home.

News of his death on Sunday brought tributes from the world of motorsport and beyond.

Irish former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan told Sky Sports News: "You say he's one of the greatest drivers not to win the world championship but actually he was one of the greatest drivers ever, you don't need to enlarge on that.

"He was all powerful. He was the one person that transcended the sport. He was dynamic in Formula Two, unbelievable in Formula Three, in Formula One he won all those races but then he went into rallying and won all those races there.

"The guy just couldn't stop. Within himself he had this great talent that he wanted to get out because he loved it and he enjoyed it so much."

His former team Mercedes 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."

FIA president Jean Todt tweeted: "Very sad day. Stirling Moss left us after a long fight. He was a true legend in motor sport and he will remain so forever.

My thoughts go out to his wife Suzie, his family, his friends".