Mosley, who started his motorsport career as a driver in the European Formula Two championship in 1968, was one of the four founding members of March in 1969 along with Robin Herd, Alan Rees and Graham Coaker.

Despite a meagre budget, it won races across the motorsport spectrum from Formula 1 to the Indianapolis 500.

Mosley left to join the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) in 1977, and played a key role in forming the Concorde Agreement that formalised F1's commercial rights in 1981.

After becoming the president of FISA, his influence increased further when he was elected President of the FIA in 1993, and he had a major impact on safety in the aftermath of the fatal accidents for Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994.

During Mosley's three terms in office, which concluded in 2009, he also oversaw cost-saving measures in F1 that included limitations on testing and engine usage.

After details of his private life were published in tabloid newspapers, Mosley became a privacy campaigner.

FIA President Jean Todt, who succeeded Mosley in the top role at the world motorsport governing body, led tributes.

The former Ferrari Formula 1 team principal said Mosley was a major figure in F1 and motorsport and contributed greatly to improving safety.

"Deeply saddened by the passing of Max Mosley,” posted Todt on Twitter.

"He was a major figure in F1 & motor sport. As FIA President for 16 years, he strongly contributed to reinforcing safety on track & on the roads. The entire FIA community pays tribute to him. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family."

A statement from Formula 1 said: "We are saddened to hear that Max Mosley, former FIA President, has passed away. A huge figure in the transition of Formula 1. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."

F1 teams Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Alpine also paid tribute on Twitter. "Alpine F1 Team is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Max Mosley, a Titan of the sport who contributed so much to the modern age," a statement on Twitter said.

"His legacy endures to this day, and will continue into the future. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."

"From driver to team founder to FIA President, Max Mosley was a powerful modernising force for world motor sport and a unique personality in our industry," said a Mercedes statement.

"On behalf of Mercedes, we extend our sympathies to his family and friends."

The British Racing Drivers Club, of which Mosley was an honorary member, said: "We thank Max for his huge contribution to the sport over the years and also for his friendship to many of us.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends in this sad time."

David Brabham, who was Ratzenberger's teammate at Simtek in 1994, wrote on Twitter: "Sad to hear the news about Max Mosley, I don’t think people realise just how much he did for Motorsport and safety when the FIA President.

"He was very good to my family and I when Roland passed away."

Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Allan McNish added: "Very sad to hear that Max Mosley has passed away. Max was an incredibly strong character with the sharpest mind I have ever met.

"As drivers we owe him a debt of thanks for all he did in our sport, especially his behind the scenes work on safety."

Sportscar ace Oliver Gavin wrote: "I worked for Max for nearly 3 years at end of the 90s driving the FIA safety car at F1 GPs. Super smart & funny. Always felt he was 3-4 steps ahead of most situations. Good to work for as long as you did your job properly... "No doubt he made our sport safer. Sad news."