The Briton was FIA president from 1993 to 2009, having previously carved out a successful career as a barrister, amateur racing driver and founder and co-owner of March Engineering.

Mosley was born in 1940, the son of fascist politician Sir Oswald Mosley and Lady Diana Mosley, who was one of the famous Mitford sisters.

After training as a lawyer, Mosley was an amateur racer in sportscars and later Formula 2, famously competing in the 1968 Hockenheim race where Jim Clark lost his life.

He retired from driving in 1969 to co-found March Engineering, which went on to become one of the world's most famous manufacturers of racing cars.

During this period he became a legal advisor to the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA), and helped frame the original Concorde Agreement which governed F1 for decades.

In 1986, he was elected as president of the FISA's Manufacturers' Commission, and then became FISA president in 1991.

As part of a restructuring of motor racing's governing body, with the FIA taking control of automobiles and racing, he was elected as president of the FIA in 1993 after Jean-Marie Balestre stood down.

Mosley began a major push for improved safety standards in road cars, and faced a similar crusade in F1 following the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

On the roads, he drove forward strengthened crash test standards and was instrumental in promoting the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) that has now become a standard.

In F1, he led changes to make the cars safer – both through reduced performance, improved crash tests and also devices like HANS.

But his tenure at the FIA, having been re-elected in 1997, 2001 and 2005, was not without its controversy.

He was a close ally of Bernie Ecclestone and the pair formed a strong alliance in frequent battles with manufacturers and teams for control of the sport.

Mosley was heavily involved in the decision to push ahead with the farcical 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, even though all the Michelin runners had to pull out of the event before the start.

There was also the famous McLaren spy scandal in 2007, where Mosley took a hard-line stance against the team for its involvement in the affair.

Mosley's tenure at the FIA ended soon after he was the subject of a tabloid expose in 2008 by the News of the World relating to his sex life.

While Mosley took the newspaper to court and won a court case that it had breached his privacy, and also won a vote of confidence from the FIA in the wake of the controversy, he eventually elected not to stand for re-election in 2009.

Mosley was recently the subject of a new film documentary about his life, which is due for release soon.

Speaking about the project last year, Mosley said: "It's got everything in it, including the News of the World and what's happened since. Bernie's interview is interesting, because they go into the whole thing of whose side was he on when the story came out?

"Someone asked does it include Hitler being a guest as his parents' wedding? The answer is yes it does. It is a warts and all thing, and that probably makes it more interesting to third parties.

"There are one or two elements in it that if I were in charge, I would cut out. But then it would take away the whole point of it – it needs to be independent."