It's a dark day in the motorsports community today. Former FIA president Max Mosley has passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 81 years old.
A barrister by profession, Mosley had an interest in motorsport from a young age. He practiced law and even entered British politics. His father, Sir Oswald Mosley, was also a prominent politician and was influential in Max's early career. However, the lure of motorsports attracted the young Mosley during his college days and began balancing a law and motorsport career from then on.
While many know him as the longest-serving head of FIA, Mosley was also an accomplished racer. He competed in over 40 races in 1966 and 1967 in England, winning 12 along the way. He also competed in Formula 2 but hung his helmet following a massive crash in 1969 and the deaths of Jim Clark, and his teammates, Piers Courage and Chris Lambert.
His retirement from racing paved the way for him to take management roles in motorsports. Together with Robin Herd, Alan Rees, and Graham Coaker, Mosley formed the March racing team and saw moderate success. While he was doing that, he was the legal counsel of the team at the Grand Prix Constructors' Association. This is where he would meet future Formula 1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone. It would also pave the road for Mosley's move up the governing body of motorsports.
Moving to the '70s, Mosley became instrumental in forming the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA), an establishment that still stands today. As a lawyer, he represented FOCA after the teams voiced their displeasure at the disbursement of proceeds from the races. This led to the FISA (the predecessor of the FIA) and FOCA war of the early-'80s. Following boycotts and disqualifications, a settlement was eventually reached.
After that, Mosley and Ecclestone became part of FISA, and their power grew in the late '80s. By then, Mosley was appointed as the head of FISA but resigned from the organization. However, in 1993, he won the election for FIA president wherein he held that post for the next 16 years.
During his tenure as FIA president, Mosley made a point to make racing safer for the drivers. He appointed Dr. Sid Watkins to lead the charge and make drastic changes to the sport. The deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger prompted Mosley to implement the new rules and regulations. Mosley was also noted for not attending Senna's funeral. Instead, he went to the internment of Ratzenberger, saying "I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his".
Some of the changes he implemented included the introduction of the HANS device, redesigning fast circuits, and more stringent crash testing. He was also instrumental in forming the FIA Foundation to promote road safety. He was even the chairman of the European New Car Assessment Program to encourage automakers to build safer road cars.
Mosley stepped down as the president of FIA in 2009. He had kind words for his successor, Jean Todt, saying that the (then) Ferrari team principal is the right person for the job if he left his post. Todt still holds the position to this day.
In many ways, Mosley made Formula 1 the giant it is today with the help of Bernie Ecclestone. He also kept the drivers safe with his appointment with Dr. Watkins. There were some controversies in Max Mosley's storied life, but there is no denying his impact on motorsports and the automotive industry.