John Surtees, left, chats to Sebastian Vettal at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Picture: James Bearne

London - Former Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell joined the motorsport world on Tuesday in paying tribute to John Surtees at the funeral of the only man to win world titles on two wheels and four.

Surtees, who won the 1964 F1 championship with Ferrari after four 500cc and three 350cc titles between 1956 and 1960, died on March 10 at the age of 83.

Mansell, who raced for Ferrari before winning the 1992 title with Williams, said: "John was a consummate professional, a gentleman, an incredible champion on two and four wheels and a gentle, massive giant. 

"When you spoke to him he was so unassuming you actually forgot he was the champion he was. I found him awesome but he was a friend."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said at the funeral at Worth Abbey in southern England that Surtees would likely always be a unique champion.

He recalled also the late champion's admiration for Sebastian Vettel, now with Ferrari after winning four titles at Red Bull.

"When we were winning races with Sebastian Vettel he would either ring me or send me an email with his observations after a Grand Prix weekend," said Horner. "He was very keen to stay in touch with the modern day drivers."


Motorsport pays tribute to F1 legend John Surtees


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