Mosley prepares to bow out as FIA President 23 Oct 2009
Max Mosley has been an integral part of Formula One racing for as long as many people can remember. But on Friday, after a 16-year stint as FIA President, Mosley will look on as his successor in the role - either former world rally champion Ari Vatanen or ex-Ferrari team principal Jean Todt - is elected.
Before the 69 year-old finally bows out, we take a look back at the career and achievements of a man who has helped change the face not just of modern motorsport, but of modern motoring.
Englishman Mosley caught the motorsport bug in the early 1960s after a visit to Silverstone as an Oxford graduate. Although a barrister by training, he started out at the coalface as a racer, first in club events and then in Formula Two, most famously competing as Piers Courages team mate in Frank Williams F2 team.
In 1969 he decided to step back from driving and co-founded March Engineering, which quickly became a leading race car producer. As a respected member of the industry, in 1974 Mosley was appointed as a representative for the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA). It was his first official foray into sporting politics and one from which he didnt look back.
After leaving March, his F1 involvement deepened and in 1981 he played a key role in the negotiations that eventually led to the creation of the Concorde Agreement, which governs Formula One racing. After a brief break from motorsport he returned in 1986 and was chosen to be President of the Manufacturers Commission of FISA (Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile), the then sporting division of the FIA.
Five years later he was elected FISA President and within two years, when the FIA and FISA merged, he became FIA President. He has occupied the role ever since. After his first four-year term he was re-elected in 1997, then again in 2001 and for a final fourth term in 2005.
Early in Mosleys FIA leadership, Formula One racing was rocked by a two-fold tragedy during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend, when world champion Ayrton Senna and promising youngster Roland Ratzenberger were killed. Mosleys career path was changed forever. Whatever objectives he had held dear before were pushed to one side, as he committed himself and the FIA to improving motorsport safety.
Their deaths led to a fundamental re-evaluation of safety at all levels of motorsport, said Mosley. We established a research group charged with constant innovation and renewal of safety requirements. The result has been improved head and neck protection, the HANS system, better harnesses, crash helmets, wheel tethers, survival cell systems and many other innovations, all of which have contributed to a huge improvement in safety. The benefits can be seen every weekend in race meetings and rallies all over the world."
The Briton, however, didnt restrict himself to improving the safety of racing drivers. He also dedicated himself - and the FIA - to improving worldwide road safety, and in 1996 led a successful campaign to modernise European Union (EU) crash test standards.
I have always been concerned to try to make sure that improvements on the track are relevant to the road, Mosley explained. Prompted by our post-Imola response, we became aware that road vehicle test in Europe had not been updated since 1974. A major campaign was launched to change this. We succeeded in forcing legislative change in Europe to develop new front and side-impact crash tests.
We then launched the European New car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP), which I chaired for almost ten years. We also promoted so-called intelligent technologies like Electronic Stability Control and created the eSafety Forum. These initiatives spread beyond Europe and have transformed the level of safety of modern road cars, many thousands of deaths and injuries have been avoided. Lives continue to be saved every day.
Under Mosley the FIA has also assumed a more international role and in 2001 established the FIA Foundation, which has pushed the FIAs safety and environmental policies onto the global agenda. The Foundation also helped establish the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, which promotes improvements across all areas of racing from junior to top level championships.
Mosley has inevitably devoted a great deal of his time to regulating Formula One racing. A firm decision maker and a wily diplomat, he has overseen the resolution of endless disagreements over the years, balancing sporting and environmental concerns with the demands of big business and fans. F1 racing is now a very different beast to the one it was when Mosley became President in 1993 and he has been instrumental in that transformation. Needless to say the process has won him both friends and enemies.
It is difficult to keep the costs of a very high-tech sport under control while preserving the FIAs role as regulator and keeping interest in the championship growing, he explained. Despite the inevitable controversies, this has been achieved and Formula One continues to be one of the worlds greatest sporting contests.
Being President of the FIA is a challenging role. The decisions that have been taken are never easy. A sport as competitive and commercially significant as ours needs to have a robust approach to governance. One cannot shy away from taking decisions that may be unpopular. And one must accept that, as President, one will get the blame for unpopular decisions, even those taken for purely legal reasons.
Frequently, however, highly unpopular decisions have proved absolutely right over the longer term. Examples in Formula One are the elimination of qualifying cars, the imposition of a single engine for the entire race weekend and the engine freeze. At the time these changes provoked furious responses from many competing teams. Yet today, none would want to go back to the old ways.
In recent years, the FIA and Mosley have increasingly found themselves under the media spotlight, thanks to a number of controversies - both inside and outside of the sport - that have captured the publics imagination. Prime among them were the McLaren spygate scandal in 2007 and Renaults conspiracy to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
"In the last year or two, the degree of controversy about the FIA and my role as President reached new heights, he explained. It is always difficult, but these problems have to be tackled decisively if Formula One is to remain credible."
Mosley says he is pleased with what his 16-year Presidency has accomplished - a right few would deny him. One of his final acts will be overseeing Fridays election process, and although he will retain a role within the FIA, he insists he will be offering only words of encouragement to whoever follows in his footsteps.
I wish my successor and his entire team the very best for the future. I hope in a modest way through membership of the Senate and the Foundation to continue to stay in touch with the clubs and with the new leadership of the FIA. But I will only offer advice if specifically asked to do so. The time has come for me to step back and enjoy a quieter life.
Look out for news of the election result later on Friday on Formula1.com