R.I.P. Max Mosley 1940-2021
Our Formula 1 Correspondent Graham Read remembers Max Mosley.
Former FIA President Max Mosley has died aged 81 after a multi-faceted and high profile career during which he was at one stage the most powerful and change generating person in world motorsport.
Max Mosley was highly intellectual and always an adversary to underestimate at your peril
Mosley was born on 13 April 1940 as the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists, and Lady Diana Mosley. His intellect meant he could easily have become a highly effective politician, but with his family background he instead opted to become a successful barrister. Whilst still in his mid 20s the young Mosley started competing in amateur Clubmans racing in the UK, but his self-confidence meant he was soon appearing in Formula 2 events, including the infamous one at Hockenheim in April 1968 during which the legendary Formula 1 double world champion Jim Clark was killed.
He chose to end his race driving activities a year later and became a co-founder of March Engineering, which was to become one of the world’s most successful race car manufacturers. Soon he was giving legal advice to the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) and in 1986 was elected as the President of the Manufacturers’ Commission of the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) before becoming the FISA President five years later.
Mosley (left) and Bernie Ecclestone formed a formidable partnership
In 1993 Mosley became the President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and remained in office until 2009 when he was succeeded by the current longterm President Jean Todt. Mosley deserves much credit for his persistent campaigns to increase road car safety and then also Formula 1 safety following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend at Imola. He was re-elected in 1997, 2001 and 2005, but his career attracted some controversy and not least because of the close partnership he formed with one Bernard Charles Ecclestone as they fought with the teams and manufacturers for control of Formula 1.
Controversy of a very different kind followed in 2008 when the News of the World newspaper revealed aspects of Mosley’s private sex life and, although Mosley took the publication to court and won a judgment that his privacy had been breached, he opted not to stand for re-election as FIA President the following year.
Sadly many best remember Mosley for who his father was and for the lurid details which emerged in the newspaper exposé, but of far more importance he was such a gifted leader and achiever who facilitated so many significant changes which have helped to save the lives of countless road and race car drivers around the world.