The former president of the FIA, lawyer and racing driver Max Mosley has died aged eighty-one, Bernie Ecclestone has told the BBC. Mosley was the son of former Labour and Conservative MP Sir Oswald Mosley, who best know for his membership of the far-right British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.
The Englishman is best known for his eighteen years as president of the FIA but had a successful career as a barrister, racing driver and team owner of March Engineering. He retired from racing in 1969 founding March Engineering, which went on to become one of the world’s most famous manufacturers of racing cars.
During this period, he became the legal advisor to the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA), and helped frame the original Concorde Agreement which has governed the sport for the last forty years
In 1986, he was elected as president of the FISA’s Manufacturers’ Commission, and then became FISA president in 1991. He then also oversaw the restructuring when the FIA took over control of automobiles and racing, he was elected as president of the FIA in 1993 after Jean-Marie Balestre stood down.
His sixteen years as president saw him launch a campaign for road safety as well as in F1 following the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994. In F1, he led changes to make the cars safer – both through reduced performance, improved crash tests and also devices like HANS.
He famously missed Senna’s funeral attending Ratzenberger’s funeral in Austria, saying ten years later “I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna’s. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.”
Also, at the same time he worked to strengthened crash test standards and was instrumental in promoting the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) that has now become a standard.
Ecclestone told BBC News “It’s like losing family, like losing a brother, Max and I. He did a lot of good things not just for motorsport, also the [car] industry. He was very good in making sure people built cars that were safe.”
On Monday, an F1 spokesperson said: “We are saddened to hear that Max Mosley former FIA President has passed away. A huge figure in the transition of Formula One. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
However, his time as president say controversies including the farce of the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, even though all the Michelin runners had to pull out of the event before the start.
As well as the Spygate copying scandal, involving Ferrari and McLaren in 2007 as well as the Crashgate scandal in 2009, following Nelson Piquet deliberate crash at the previous year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
At the same time, he sued the now-defunct News of the World for breech of privacy after they gained images of him attending a Nazi orgy. His case also going to the European Court of Human Rights, in a bid to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives so they could have the opportunity to seek a court injunction.
Mosley has received many governments and industry awards, most notably the National de la Légion d’Honneur’ in 2006, in recognition of his great contribution to road safety and motorsport.
A film about his life is due for release later in the year.