Max Mosley is a colossal name in motorsport and with his passing in 2021 he leaves behind a legacy few will ever equal. Thiemo looks back at the life and career of Mosley with this piece that Max himself consulted on in 2020.
Max Rufus Mosley (born 13th April 1940) is a Barrister and former amateur racing driver. He was a founder and co-owner of March Engineering, a racing car constructor and Formula One racing team. He later became the president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – the governing body for Formula One and other international motorsports. The FIA is a non-profit association that represents the interests of motoring organisations and car users worldwide.
Mosley is the youngest son of Sir Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford (one of the famed Mitford girls,). He had one older brother and three half-siblings from his parents’ first marriages. The children were initially tutored at home as Max’s older brother was very unhappy at boarding school. The family moved to a succession of country houses in England and by the end of the war, lived in Wiltshire. In 1950, the Mosleys bought houses in Ireland and in Orsay, near Paris. They spent the year moving around Europe, spending the spring in France and the autumn and winter in Ireland, where Max was keen on riding and hunting. His aunt, Nancy Mitford, in letters to Evelyn Waugh, recalled Sir Oswald and his family cruising around the Mediterranean Sea on the family yacht.
At the age of 13, Mosley was sent to Stein an der Traun in Germany for two years where he learned to speak fluent German. On his return to England, he spent a year at Millfield, an independent boarding school in Somerset, after which he continued his education in London for two years. He attended Christ Church at Oxford University, where he was secretary of the Oxford Union. He graduated with a degree in Physics in 1961.
He married his wife Jean in 1960 and the couple later had two sons.
He rejected his previous ambition to work as a physicist after “establishing that there was no money in it.” Mosley studied Law at Gray’s Inn in London and qualified as a barrister in 1964, later specialising in patent and trademark law. Between 1961 and 1964, he was also a member of the Parachute Regiment with the Territorial Army.
First time at Silverstone
While Mosley was at university, his wife was given tickets to a motor race at Silverstone and, out of curiosity, the couple went along. Mosley was attracted by the sport and, once qualified as a barrister, began teaching law in the evenings to earn enough money to start racing cars himself.
The sport’s indifference to his background appealed to him:
“There was always a certain amount of trouble [being the son of Sir Oswald] until I came into motor racing. And in one of the first races I ever took part in there was a list of people when they put [up] the practice times and I heard somebody say, ‘Mosley, Max Mosley, he must be some relation of Alf Mos[e]ley, the coachbuilder.’ And I thought to myself, ‘I’ve found a world where they don’t know about Oswald Mosley.’ And it has always been a bit like that in motor racing: nobody gives a damn.”
Racing at the national level in the UK, Max competed in over forty races over 1966 and 1967; winning twelve and setting several class lap records. In 1968, he established the London Racing Team with driver Chris Lambert as a partner, to compete in European Formula Two. At the time, Formula Two was the level just below Formula One. Their cars were prepared by Frank Williams. Yes, that Frank Williams.
Mosley might not have been particularly quick, but he was a thinking driver. He kept out of trouble and generally used his head.
– Brian Hart (Engine Builder)
Max Mosley’s Racing Career
It was a dangerous time to race. Mosley’s first Formula Two race was the 1968 Deutschland Trophäe at Hockenheim, in which double world champion Jim Clark was killed. Within two years, both of Mosley’s 1968 teammates, Piers Courage and Chris Lambert were dead as a result of racing accidents.
Mosley’s best result that year was an eighth-place at a non-championship race at Monza.
In 1969, after two large accidents, Mosley decided that “it was evident that I wasn’t going to be World Champion” and retired from driving. By that time he was already working with Robin Herd, Alan Rees and Graham Coaker to establish the racing car manufacturer March Engineering where he handled the legal and commercial matters. The March name is an acronym of the founders initials; M being for Mosley.
Max and his partners each put in £2,500 of capital, though his father told him that the company “would certainly go bankrupt, but it would be good training for something serious later on.”
“Everything we’d set out to do, we’d done, and there were two of our cars sitting on the front […] you could feel the annoyance, the hatred almost, of some of the Grand Prix establishment because we’d pulled it off. It was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life.”
–Mosley recalling March’s first F1 race, the 1970 South African Grand Prix
As they were now a constructor, Mosley was invited as the March representative at meetings of the Grand Prix Constructors’ Association (GPCA), which negotiated joint deals on behalf of its member teams.
March, being a new organisation and therefore someone else after a slice of the pie, was not immediately popular with the established teams, though Mosley has said that “when they went along to meetings to discuss things such as prize money, they felt they ought to take me along because I was a lawyer”.
The groups’ idea of negotiation left Mosley less than impressed:
“Our side all went in a group because no-one trusted anyone else and were all afraid that someone would break ranks and make a private deal.”
Mr Ecclestone Enters the Building
In 1971, British businessman Bernie Ecclestone bought the Brabham team and with it, his own seat at the table. Mosley later observed:
“Within about 20 minutes of [Ecclestone] turning up at the [GPCA] meeting, it was apparent that here was someone who knew how many beans made five and after about half an hour he moved round the table to sit next to me, and from then on he and I started operating as a team. Within a very short time, the two of us were doing everything for the GPCA, instead of everyone moving around in a block, and from that developed FOCA.”
Although March had limited resources and limited experience, they announced ambitious plans to enter Formula One, the pinnacle of single-seater racing, in 1970. Mosley played a key role in publicising the new outfit and, though the team had initially intended to enter a single car, by the beginning of the season, the number of March cars entered for their first Formula One race had risen to five, at least partly due to deals made by Max. The team would run two of the cars as March’s own works team and the rest were customer cars. Mosley had also negotiated sponsorship from tyre maker Firestone and oil additive manufacturer STP.
The new operation was initially successful. March cars won three of their first four Formula One races, including the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix, a world championship race. It was won by the reigning world champion Jackie Stewart driving a customer car run by Tyrrell Racing. These results led March to finish third in the 1970 Constructors’ Championship. The factory also sold forty cars to customers in various lower formulae.
Despite their successes, they soon found themselves in financial difficulty as the Formula One operation was costing more than the customer car business was making. The March works team’s contract with its lead driver, Chris Amon, was expensive, and Mosley, in his own words, “tried at every opportunity to get rid of him”. He argued that having Jackie Stewart being highly competitive in a customer car was enough to show March in a good light. Amon stayed on to the end of the year before Max was successful in “restructuring” his contract, which saved the company much-needed money.
At the end of their first season, Mosley successfully demanded full control of the finances including the factory, which had until then been run by Coaker, who left shortly afterwards. Mosley and Herd borrowed £20,000 from relatives and friends to support the company into its second year. It was said that at least some of the money came from one of Mosley’s half-brothers.
The Tyrrell team started making its own cars towards the end of 1970, badly affecting March’s 1971 Formula One programme, which now without a recognised front-running driver was greatly reduced. The monies from the Firestone and STP sponsorships were insufficient and despite various attempts, Mosley was unable to attract a large enough backer for 1971.
Motorsport author Mike Lawrence has suggested that the shortfall forced him into short-term deals, which, though they maintained cash flow, were not in the best long-term interests of the company. Mosley negotiated a deal for the team to use Alfa Romeo engines in a third car, which brought in some much-needed funding, though the engines proved uncompetitive and his hopes of an ongoing partnership with the Italian automobile manufacturer came to nothing.
Despite their many issues, the March team again finished third in the Constructors’ Championship, and works driver Ronnie Peterson, in a Cosworth DFV-powered car, was second in the Drivers’ Championship. March’s financial woes continued: the company had lost £71,000 at the end of 1971. Max and Alan Rees disagreed over how to rectify the situation and Rees left March early in 1972.
March were, however, more successful in selling large numbers of customer cars for the lower formulae and Mosley organised a number of extensive test sessions for the 1971 cars for journalists and drivers. He also arranged a successful scheme for drivers to rent cars and engines for the season, rather than buying them outright.
In a fortunate turn of events, despite having lost money on a deal to supply a Formula Two car to Jochen Neerpasch, the then motorsport manager at Ford, the deal still paid off when Neerpasch moved to BMW and offered March an exclusive deal to use BMW’s Formula Two engine for the 1973 season. March cars powered by BMW engines won five of the next eleven European Formula Two championships, though BMW then put pressure on Herd to concentrate on the Formula Two programme. This increased involvement in Formula Two meant that Herd spent less time with the Formula One team, where Max’s role grew once more.
Like many teams throughout the ages, money was often an issue and March considered quitting Formula One more than once. However, money was somehow always found to support at least one car. Mike Lawrence credits Mosley with pressing for a six-wheeled March to be built as a draw for sponsors, following in the footsteps of the popular Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler. The teams’ answer, the 1976 March 2-4-0 didn’t compete in Formula One, but did generate a decent amount of publicity and the model of it made for the Scalextric slotcar range did generate some money too.
The cars were rarely frontrunners, although the works team won a single race in both 1975 and 1976. Max spent a lot of his time working on negotiating deals to bring in drivers with sponsorship, including Niki Lauda, whilst also, selling Marches to other Formula One teams including the new Williams-Ford team and Penske. By the end of 1977, Mosley was fed up with the struggle to compete in Formula One with no resources and left to work for FOCA full-time. He sold his shares to Herd but remained as a director of the company. March’s involvement in Formula One ended the same year.
The Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) was created in 1974 by Bernie Ecclestone, Colin Chapman (Lotus), Teddy Mayer (McLaren), Max Mosley, Ken Tyrrell and Frank Williams. FOCA would represent the commercial interests of the teams at meetings with the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) a commission of the FIA and motorsport’s world governing body. The CSI later became the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA), motorsport’s world governing body.
After he left March in 1977, Mosley officially became legal advisor to FOCA, which was led by Ecclestone. In his biography of Ecclestone, Terry Lovell suggests that he appointed Mosley to this role not only because of his legal ability but also because he “saw in Mosley the necessary diplomatic and political skills that made him perfectly suited to the establishment of the FIA”.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), founded in 1904 was FISA’s parent body, representing road car users worldwide. In the same year, Mosley was nominated for a role at the FIA’s Bureau Permanent International de Constructeurs d’Automobile (BPICA) but his nomination was blocked by French, Italian and German manufacturers.
In the early 1980s, Mosley represented FOCA in the “FISA–FOCA war”, a conflict between FOCA, representing the mainly UK-based independent teams, and FISA, which was supported by the “grandee” constructors owned by road car manufacturers (primarily Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Renault). In 1980, FOCA announced its own World Federation of Motor Sport and ran the non-championship 1981 South African Grand Prix – the so-called ‘Cow race’.
Over the winter of 1980/81, Max went skiing with Colin Chapman and Teddy Mayer in Kitzbühel, Austria. They were eating together in one of the resort’s restaurants when Colin asked the waitress about a mural on the wall, showing two men painting a cow. She explained that during the middle ages a nearby town had been under siege and was running out of food, but they had one cow left. Someone had the idea that, if they painted the cow different colours every day, it would look to their attackers as though they had, in fact, got plenty of food and therefore, far from giving up.
“THAT’S IT, THAT’S WHAT WE NEED TO DO – ORGANISE A RACE!” – Colin Chapman
FISA had had to postpone the proposed season-opening Argentine Grand Prix, so if FOCA could get a race together and FISA couldn’t…
By their staging of this race, complete with worldwide television coverage, Jean-Marie Balestre, FISA President, was persuaded that FISA would have to negotiate a settlement with FOCA. As Max has since commented; “We were absolutely skint, if Balestre could have held the manufacturer’s support for a little bit longer, the constructors would have been on their knees. The outcome would then have been very different.”
The settlement between the two parties led to the creation of the first Concorde Agreement, which Max helped draw up. The Concorde Agreement document resolved the dispute by essentially giving FISA control of the rules and FOCA control of commercial and television rights of Formula One. There have been several updates since and a version of the Concorde Agreement is still in place today.
In 1982, the year after the first Concorde Agreement was signed, Mosley left his role at FOCA, and Formula One, to work for the (UK) Conservative Party.
Four years later, in 1986, Max was back and, with the support of Ecclestone and Balestre, he became president of the FISA Manufacturers’ Commission, the successor body to the BPICA with a seat on the FISA World Council. He also established Simtek Research, a racing technical consultancy firm, with Nick Wirth, a former March employee, the same year. He did later sell his share of Simtek in 1991 when he was elected president of FISA.
In 1991, Mosley challenged Balestre for the presidency of FISA. Mosley reportedly said that his decision to challenge the Frenchman was prompted by Balestre’s apparent intervention on behalf of Alain Prost to ensure that race stewards disqualified Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.
Mosley campaigned on the basis that Balestre, who was also president of the FIA and of the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile, could not effectively manage all these roles together. He also said that no one challenged Balestre because they were afraid of the consequences and suggested that the FISA President should not interfere with F1, which could be left to run itself.
Mosley won the FISA presidency by 43 votes to 29; Balestre remained as FIA president. True to his word, Mosley duly resigned a year later, “I wanted to show people that I do what I say”, he said. “Now they can judge me in a year’s time.” FISA immediately re-elected him.
In 1993, Mosley and Balestre agreed that the Frenchman would stand down as FIA president and that Max would take the position. In exchange for his seat at the FIA, Balestre would take on the new position of President of the FIA Senate, which was to be created after Mosley’s election.
As president, Mosley pledged that the FIA should make a difference in the world outside motor racing and set about promoting increased road safety and the use of green technology.
In his first year in office, Mosley set up the FIA Brussels office, giving motorsport and 40million members of the FIA’s motoring organisations in the European Union countries an effective voice in Brussels for the first time. In the same year, he was elected Honorary President of the European Parliament Automobile Users’ Intergroup and he formed the Expert Advisory Safety Committee, which brought together leading safety experts in motorsport to research and find solutions for the major safety issues in motorsport.
“That is what really interested me. [In F1] You maybe save one life every five years, whereas [in] road safety you are talking about thousands of lives”
The FIA remit covers more than just motorsport and includes the interests of motorists worldwide, an area in which Max wanted to involve himself.
Despite some initial challenges, the FISA was then merged into the FIA as its sporting arm.
The aftermath of San Marino
After the tragic events at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, the worldwide media attention was more focused on the death of triple-world champion Senna, rather than Roland Ratzenberger, a virtual unknown driving for the minor Simtek team. Mosley did not go to Senna’s funeral but did attend that of Ratzenberger. In a press conference ten years later Mosley said, “I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna’s. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.”
In the aftermath of their deaths, as well as a number of other serious accidents, Max announced the formation of the Advisory Expert Group. It would be chaired by Professor Sid Watkins, with the determined aim being to research and improve safety in motor racing. Watkins, who learned of his new role by hearing Mosley announce it on the radio, has called it a “novel and revolutionary approach”.
The Max Mosley Safety Revolution
Changes brought about from the findings of this group have included reducing the capacity and power of engines, using grooved tyres to reduce cornering speeds, the introduction of the HANS device to protect drivers’ necks in accidents, circuit re-design and greatly increased requirements for crash testing of chassis.
In 1996, Mosley led the FIA’s successful campaign to modernise and strengthen EU crash test standards for the first time since 1974. This was achieved by proposing amendments to the European Parliament requiring the offset frontal test and 300mm clearance side impact test.
In late 1996, Mosley also formed and served as the first Chairman of the Formula One Safety Commission, which focused on the development of Formula One circuit safety.
During 1997 he led a successful campaign for the FIA to be recognised by the International Olympic Committee and in October of that year, was re-elected as president of the FIA – his second term.
In 1999, the EU Commission Directorate-General for Competition issued a Statement of Objections, listing a number of grievances surrounding the FIA’s dealings with Ecclestone and Formula One, arguing that a number of commercial agreements could be viewed as anti-competitive.
In 2001, the parties reached an agreement to amend the existing commercial contracts, which included Ecclestone stepping down as the FIA’s vice-president of promotional affairs and the FIA ending all involvement in the commercial activities of Formula One while retaining control of all sporting aspects.
Mosley came up with an innovative way to dispose of the FIA’s involvement in the commercial activities of Formula One in order to maintain Ecclestone’s investment to deliver digital television. Max proposed extending Ecclestone’s rights for F1 coverage to one hundred years from the initial fifteen arguing that a deal of such length could not be anti-competition as it was effectively the same as an outright sale.
The Commission agreed with his assessment and in order to be impartial, Mosley removed himself from the remaining negotiations, which eventually returned around $300 million (£150 million) to the FIA. The FIA planned to “put almost all of it into a charitable foundation which will then have the resources to undertake important work on improving safety in motor sport and in road safety” – the FIA Foundation was created in 2001.
In addition, the FIA continued to receive an annual dividend from the deal, on which Mosley commented:
“Over the totality of the contract, and on an annual basis, the sum we have accepted represents billions of dollars. Looked at from that point of view, it is a huge amount of money.”
Over the same period, Mosley was attempting to delay European legislation banning tobacco advertising. At the time all leading Formula One teams carried significant branding from tobacco brands such as Rothmans (Williams,) West (McLaren-Mercedes,) Marlboro (Ferrari) and Mild Seven (Benetton).
The Labour party in the UK had pledged to ban tobacco advertising in its manifesto ahead of the 1997 General Election, in support of a proposed European Union Directive. The Labour Party’s stance on banning tobacco advertising was reinforced following the election by forceful statements from the Health Secretary Frank Dobson and Minister for Public Health Tessa Jowell.
However, Mosley argued that the proposed legislation was illegal by EU rules, that Formula One needed more time to find alternative sources of funding and that the prompt introduction of a ban would lead to races being held outside Europe, while the coverage, including tobacco logos, would still be broadcast into the EU.
His argument continued that:
Motor racing was a world-class industry which put Britain at the high tech edge. Deprived of tobacco money, Formula One would move abroad at the loss of 50,000 jobs, 150,000 part-time jobs and £900 million of exports.
The revised EU directive went into force in June 1998, and banned sponsorship from 2003, with a further three-year extension for “global sports such as Formula One”. On 5th October 2000, the directive was overturned in the European Court of Justice on the grounds that it was unlawful and a new Tobacco Advertising Directive came into effect in July 2005. Max was described by the UK Financial Times as “furious” that this was a year earlier than provided for under the 1998 directive.
Max Mosley back at the FIA
In February 2001, Mosley announced he would stand again for election to the presidency of the FIA in October, adding that if he was successful, his third term would be his last. He was elected unopposed.
In June 2004, Mosley announced that he would step down from his position in October of that year, a year early. But, following a call from the FIA senate for him to stay on, he changed his mind. Some have suggested that this was just gamesmanship on his part as plans he had for Formula One had been met with opposition.
“Formula One is a sport which entertained. It is not entertainment disguised as a sport.”
– Max Mosley
The Indianapolis fiasco
The 2005 United States Grand Prix was run with only six cars after the Michelin tyres used by some teams proved unsafe for the circuit. A proposal involving the addition of a temporary chicane to slow cars through the fastest corner of the circuit was suggested but rejected by Mosley, who when giving his reasons for not agreeing to the chicane said:
“Formula One is a dangerous activity and it would be most unwise to make fundamental changes to a circuit without following tried and tested procedures. What happened was bad but can be put right. This is not true of a fatality.”
Mosley gave three possible solutions for the Michelin runners: to use qualifying tyres but change them whenever necessary on safety grounds, to use a different tyre to be provided by Michelin or to run at reduced speed. These were all rejected by the Michelin-shod teams.
The ‘race’ went ahead in front of confused and frustrated fans and many, possibly unaware of the details behind the scenes, called for Mosley to resign.
FIA – The Final Frontier
Mosley was again elected unopposed to his fourth term as president of the FIA in 2005 and in recognition of his contribution to road safety and motorsport, Mosley was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’honneur in 2006. The Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honour) is France’s highest decoration for outstanding achievements in military or civil life; a Chevalier (Knight) is the fifth class.
Continuing his presidency in 2006, Mosley called for Formula One manufacturers to develop technology relevant to road cars. In the preceding years, a large proportion of the Formula One teams’ budget had been spent on the development of more powerful, high-revving engines, which bore little or no relation to everyday road cars.
Max announced a 10-year freeze on the development of engines, which would allow manufacturers to spend more of their budgets on environmentally friendly technology such as the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) introduced in 2009. In July 2008, he sent a letter to the Formula One teams in which he called for them to propose future sporting regulations to address specific issues including reduced fuel consumption.
The Spygate Scandal
During 2007, away from the actual business of racing, the Formula One season was dominated by Ferrari’s accusations that the McLaren team had made illegal use of their intellectual property, leading to legal cases in the United Kingdom and Italy.
Unlike previous instances, such as the 2004 case of the Toyota team’s illegal use of Ferrari intellectual property that had been handled by the German police, the FIA investigated. They initially found McLaren innocent due to insufficient evidence to suggest that anyone other than designer Mike Coughlan had seen the information or that the team had used it.
Ron Dennis, team principal of McLaren, was unaware at this point that Mosley had been sent personal e-mails from Fernando Alonso, stating that the data had been used and seen by others in the team. When Italian police uncovered a series of text messages between McLaren and their spy at Ferrari, the team was brought back in front of the World Motor Sports Council (WMSC) once more. Based on further evidence, the team were found guilty and fined US $100M and excluded from the 2007 constructors’ championship.
Later the same year, the Renault team was found guilty by the FIA of the similar offence of possessing some of McLaren’s intellectual property but were not punished, due to a lack of evidence that the championship had been affected.
Former driver and TV commentator Martin Brundle used his newspaper column to voice his criticism of the FIA and of Mosley for their inconsistency and questioned the “energetic manner” in which he felt McLaren was being pursued. Both Brundle and The Sunday Times subsequently received a writ for libel before the paper printed a correction.
Triple world champion Jackie Stewart was critical of Mosley and stated that other teams did not back McLaren for “fear of repercussions”. Mosley defended himself of the charges made by Brundle, highlighting that the WMSC originally acquitted McLaren of any wrongdoing, stating: “Concrete evidence of use by McLaren of the Ferrari information was simply not there.” It was only later in the year when “e-mails emerged which showed others inside McLaren were indeed aware of the Ferrari information”, that the FIA found the team guilty.
In 2007, he publicly called former world champion driver Jackie Stewart a “certified half-wit” after the Scot criticised his handling of the “spy-gate” scandal involving McLaren and Ferrari.
At the start of 2008 Mosley said that, before he retired, he wanted to see through certain reforms in Formula One such as budget capping and new technologies like KERS being introduced. In December he stated that it was still his intention to stand down when his term ran out in the following October, however, he would take the final decision in June 2009.
Sir Jackie Stewart, possibly in a belated response to Max’s “half-wit” comment, was critical of Mosley’s close relationship with Bernie Ecclestone and, in early 2009, suggested that Mosley should resign in favour of a CEO from outside motorsport.
End of Max Mosley’s Presidency
In mid-2009, there was disagreement between the FIA and the Formula One Teams Association over the rules format for the next season and when the entry list for the 2010 championship was announced, five of the eight FOTA teams entries were marked as being provisional, based on their acceptance of the new rules.
The following day, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association announced its support for FOTA’s request for “stability, clear rules, a clear and transparent system of governance” and their suggested threat to form a breakaway series from Formula One. The BBC Sport website reported this as an attack on Mosley’s authority and noted that Mosley was expected to stand again for the presidency in 2009.
After some gamesmanship (probably on both sides,) Mosley said he was considering running for a fifth term as FIA president in October “in light of the attack on my mandate”. His suggestion brought about a deal between FOTA and the FIA in which he agreed not to stand for re-election.
The then Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, welcomed Mosley’s decision to stand down and called Mosley a ‘dictator’. Mosley responded by saying that he was still considering his ‘options’ and might well stand for re-election in October as he was “under pressure from all over the world” to stand for re-election. In the end, on 15th July, Max confirmed that he would stand down, after all, again endorsing former Ferrari Executive Director Jean Todt as his successor. After he had stepped down from the position he was named Honorary President of the FIA.
It is probably not unfair to say that Max, along with Bernie Ecclestone, ruled F1 in sometimes controversial ways – though it has to be acknowledged that many of the things he achieved have proven to be of benefit not only to the sport but also to the wider motorsport community and the greater general public.
The Legacy of Max Mosley
Max has stated that his greatest achievement as FIA boss was to make F1 racing much safer.
Mosley identified his major achievement as FIA President as the promotion of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP or Encap). He has also promoted increased safety and the use of green technologies in motor racing.
Asked in an interview in 2003 about his most enduring achievement as president of the FIA, Mosley replied: “I think using Formula One to push ENCAP Crash-Testing”.
The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP or ENCAP) is a European car safety performance assessment programme. The FIA became involved in the programme in 1996, going on to take a lead in its promotion – Mosley chaired the body from its launch as Euro NCAP in 1997 to 2004. Despite what NCAP describes as a “strong negative response” from car manufacturers at first, the initiative has expanded, and NCAP says that there has been a clear increase in the safety of modern cars as a result.
In 2000, the EU commission said that “EuroNCAP had become the single most important mechanism for achieving advances in vehicle safety” and “the most cost effective road safety action available to the EU.”
Mosley has continued to promote the matter through his membership of initiatives such as CARS 21, the European Commission’s policy group aimed at improving the worldwide competitiveness of the European automotive industry.
In September 2017, as the outgoing Chairman of Global NCAP, Max was awarded a Life-Time Achievement Award for his wide-ranging work on road safety, which had included the creation of Euro NCAP and the establishment of the FIA Foundation and Global NCAP.
David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General said; “It was an honour to present Max with this Award. Over the last 25 years, very few people have been such tireless advocates for safer cars and road safety.”
In leading Euro NCAP in 1997 he took on the automotive industry and challenged them to make safer cars, they did. With the launch of the FIA Foundation in 2001, he created the world’s leading road safety philanthropy. The Foundation has since led the successful campaign to include road safety in the United Nations framework of Sustainable Development Goals and has contributed more than $100 million to road safety projects worldwide. With the creation of Global NCAP in 2011, he has helped to build a market for safer vehicles in rapidly motorising countries of South East Asia, India, and Latin America.
“So many people owe their lives to his vision and determination, the road safety community will be forever grateful for his leadership.”
Mosley was the subject of Michael Shevloff’s biographical documentary ‘Mosley’ – released 8th March 2020.
Max Mosley died on the 23rd May 2021 after a battle with cancer. The news was confirmed by his long-term friend and Formula 1 partner Bernie Ecclestone.
“He was like family to me. We were like brothers. I am pleased in a way because he suffered for too long.”
I would like to thank Mr Mosley for his contributions to this article and thank Laurie Robertson for her assistance with this article.
What are your thoughts on Max’s story? Let me know in the comments below.
In writing this piece, I have chosen not to expand on the details regarding Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley as this article is about Max and his involvement in motorsport. Details about his parents are well recorded and easily searchable for those who wish to do so. In Max’s own words; “I was born into this rather strange family and then at a certain point you get away from that.”