Max Mosley, former president of the FIA has died at the age of 81 it has been revealed.
The former barrister and son of Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists – Britain’s equivalent of the Nazi Party – first involvement in motor racing came after a visit to Silverstone in the 1960s whilst at University at Oxford, after which he began racing.
Whilst racing he found his surname to be less of an issue than he’d found in other areas of society (so either motor racing was full of fascists or motor racing types are so focused on racing that they’re oblivious to what’s going on elsewhere – I’m hoping it’s the latter!), and he made it as far as F2 in 1968, the next rung down from Formula 1.
After realising his driving ability could only take him so far, he hung up his gloves and, along with Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd, established the March Engineering, a team with which they’d enter Formula 1, with some success.
Being a barrister, Mosley found himself playing an increasingly important part in the Grand Prix Constructors’ Association, where he aligned himself with Bernie Ecclestone, who would jointly form FOCA (Formula 1 Constructor’s Association) to represent the interests of Formula 1 Teams in their negotiations with the sport of F1. Max left March in 1977 and joined FOCA as legal advisor.
Whilst there, Mosley helped secure the commercial & TV rights for FOCA, one of the most financially lucrative deals in the history of sport, before leaving to pursue a career in politics.
He returned to Formula 1 in the mid-1980s, first becoming president of the FISA Manufacturers’ Commission, before succeeding Jean Marie Balestre as president of the FIA in 1993. Whilst there he once again worked with his old pal Ecclestone, handing him an extension to his megabucks commercial rights deal (which was later vetoed by the European commission for contravening anti-competition laws).
Mosley’s stewardship of the FIA coincided with the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994, after which a raft of safety measures were implemented by the FIA – perhaps Mosely’s greatest contribution to F1.
Second, third and fourth terms as president of the FIA followed, amidst much argument over the ownership/keepership of F1, and of the roles of the various interested parties that continues to this day, before Mosely was succeeded by Jean Todt in 2009.
Mosley found himself embroiled in a sex scandal in 2008 when he was filmed inside a brothel, partaking in what some claimed was a mock-Nazi style sex session, after which Mosley committed much of his time to fighting for privacy laws, using his considerable wealth and influence to pressure anyone – predominantly the mass media – who he thought was in violation of what he deemed to be anti-privacy.
Mosley was an intellectual, highly influential guy, backed by great wealth. A controversial figure, he made significant contributions to Formula 1 on a number of levels, but made a lot of enemies along the way, particularly in the UK press, who are likely to pillory him in death now he’s not around to use his influence and wealth to contain them.
Rest in peace Max.