Max Mosley, 1940-2021. Founder of the FIA Foundation
Max Mosley, who as President of the FIA established the FIA Foundation, has died aged 81.
He leaves a powerful legacy of road safety action which has transformed vehicle safety and the global response to road traffic injury. His achievements include European crash test legislation and the independent car safety tests of Euro NCAP and Global NCAP, which together are estimated to have saved many tens of thousands of lives. The FIA Foundation, set up by Max Mosley in 2001-2, supports road safety and sustainable transport programmes in more than 100 countries worldwide and is a leader in advocacy for global road safety and the rights of children to safe and healthy journeys.
Max Mosley, a barrister, became President of the FIA in 1993, following a long career in motor sport, first in sports cars and then later in Formula 2 driving Brabham and Lotus cars. He retired from driving in 1969 to co-found March Engineering, which quickly became one of the world's leading racing car manufacturers.
In the mid-1970s, he became the official legal adviser to the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA), the body that represented Formula One constructors. In 1986 he was elected president of the Manufacturers’ Commission of the FISA and represented the world's motor industry on the World Motor Sport Council. He was later elected President of the FISA in 1991 and was elected as President of the FIA in 1993, serving until 2009.
As FIA president he prioritised motor sport safety, forming an Expert Advisory Safety Committee, which brought together leading safety experts in motor sport to research and find solutions for the major safety issues in motor sport. In 1994, spurred by the deaths in one tragic Formula One weekend of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, Mosley instituted major reform of safety in the sport. He served as the first Chairman of the Formula One Safety Commission, which focused on the development of all aspects of Formula One circuit safety, and worked closely with Professor Sid Watkins, Peter Wright, Charlie Whiting and others to instil a strong safety culture. In 2004, Mosley also established the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety in order to develop and improve safety measures and sustainability across all areas of motor sport, from junior racing to top-level championships.
His interest in motor sport safety, and understanding of the important role of crash testing in improving crashworthiness and survivability, led Mosley to demand change in automobile safety too. He was determined that the FIA would have a social impact in the world outside motor racing and promoted increased road safety and environmental protection.
In his first year in office Mosley set up an FIA Brussels office. In the same year, he was elected Honorary President of the European Parliament Automobile Users’ Intergroup. From 1995, together with the head of the FIA’s Brussel’s office, David Ward, Mosley led the FIA’s successful campaign to modernise and strengthen EU crash test standards for the first time since 1974, achieved by proposing amendments to the European Parliament requiring the offset frontal test and 300mm clearance side impact test. He also promoted the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), the independent crash-test organisation described by the European Commission as the most cost-effective road safety initiative of the last 20 years. Mosley remained Chairman of Euro NCAP from 1996 until 2004.
In 2001, Mosley proposed the establishment of the FIA Foundation, using proceeds secured from Formula One TV rights, and created it as an international charity based in the UK. The Foundation became the first major private funder of global road safety, and helped the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations to develop strategies and establish funding initiatives. Mosley served as a Trustee of the Foundation until 2014. He also became the first Chairman of the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), established with funding from the FIA Foundation in 2011, which has worked to improve vehicle safety in Latin America, South East Asia, India and South Africa.
A road safety pioneer, leader and donor, Max Mosley’s legacy will continue to be seen and felt every day in the work of the FIA Foundation and other institutions he established, the motor sport safety reforms he led, and in the many thousands of deaths and serious injuries prevented through the road safety research and programmes he supported. Rest in Peace.