Jean-Marie Balestre dies

Former FIA president and founding member of the FIA Jean-Marie Balestre has died aged 86.

Current FIA president Max Mosley paid tribute to Balestre. “It is with immense sadness that we have learnt of the passing of Jean-Marie,” Mosley began. “His contribution to motor sport in France and indeed throughout the world has been unique. All those involved in our sport will miss him greatly and will join with me in extending our sincere condolences to his family and his friends at this very difficult time.”

Born 9 April 1921, Balestre was the president of the FISA the precursor to the FIA between 1979 and 1991, and of the FIA from 1986 to 1993. He was also a founding member of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile, a French motor sport organization, before becoming the first president of the International Karting Commission of the FIA.

In 1973, Balestre was elected as president of the FFSA, and in 1978, became the president of the FIA s International Sporting Commission.

Balestre has done much for motor sport he is credited with establishing specific crash testing for F1 cars, helping to massively improvement safety within the sport. He was also instrumental in the decision to switch to normally aspirated Formula One cars in 1989, a move which was made mainly thanks to safety concerns.

His life within motor sport has not been without controversy in 1989, he was accused of abusing his power when after a collision between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka, he disqualified Senna after the Brazilian won the race, fined him and suspended him, meaning that the championship was eventually handed to Prost.