In a letter to all FIA member clubs, councils and commissions, outgoing FIA President Max Mosley reflects upon his 16-year tenure at the helm of the governing body, musing over all of the 'controversy' of recent years - from 'Spygate' to Singapore...

Dear Presidents and members of the FIA bodies,

In the final days of my term as President, I have been reflecting on the last 16 years during which I have had the honour to lead the FIA.

In contrast to those who seek to criticise our Federation, the overwhelming impression I have is of an organisation that has made great progress and has much to be proud of.

Early in my Presidency in 1994, we lost Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. Their deaths led to a fundamental re-evaluation of safety at all levels of motorsport. We established a research group charged with constant innovation and renewal of safety requirements.

The result has been improved head and neck protection, the HANS system, better harnesses, crash helmets, wheel tethers, survival cell systems and many other innovations, all of which have contributed to a huge improvement in safety.

The benefits can be seen every weekend in race meetings and rallies all over the world. Without this progress, the heavy crashes during the recent Formula One event at Suzuka might easily have led to another tragic weekend like Imola in 1994.

I have always been concerned, however, to try to make sure that improvements on the track are relevant to the road. Prompted by our post-Imola response, we became aware that road vehicle crash tests in Europe had not been updated since 1974. A major campaign was launched to change this. We succeeded in forcing legislative change in Europe to develop new front and side-impact crash tests.

We then launched the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP), which I chaired for almost ten years. We also promoted so-called intelligent technologies like Electronic Stability Control and created the 'eSafety Forum'. These initiatives spread beyond Europe and have transformed the level of safety of modern road cars. Many thousands of deaths and injuries have been avoided. Lives continue to be saved every day. In 2001, we established the FIA Foundation with a gift of $300 million. The Foundation and the clubs have pushed FIA policies onto the international agenda so successfully that this year road safety will be the subject of a first-ever global Ministerial Conference in Moscow in November.

The Foundation is also leading a new global initiative to promote fuel economy and tackle climate change, and its resources have enabled a far greater engagement of FIA clubs in Asia, Africa and Latin America in road safety, environmental and mobility issues. The FIA has had a carbon sequestration programme since 1995.

Together with the FIA, the Foundation has also created the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, which is providing funds for training and development programmes throughout the world. These will be of great benefit to our global network of National Sporting Authorities.

A major preoccupation has been regulating the sport, especially our major championships. Of course, Formula One is always controversial. It is difficult to keep the costs of a very high-tech sport under control while preserving the FIA's role as regulator and keeping interest in the championship growing. Despite the inevitable controversies, this has been achieved and Formula One continues to be one of the world's great sporting contests and a testament to the work of the FIA team.

The mobility side of the FIA has also experienced much change over the last 16 years. Lengthy negotiations with the Alliance Internationale de Tourism finally achieved a merger in 2005. The Mobility Secretariat could then be re-organised and a new policy agenda developed.

However, some of the bigger clubs are still reluctant to engage fully in the new structure, preferring their exclusive commercial partnerships like ARC and the GMA to our inclusive club family. Nevertheless, the FIA is better-placed than ever before to develop mobility services and programmes that can help our clubs thrive and prosper, especially in the newly mass-motorised regions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Being President of the FIA is a challenging role. The decisions that have to be taken are never easy. A sport as competitive and commercially significant as ours needs to have a robust approach to governance. One cannot shy away from taking decisions that may be unpopular and one must accept that, as president, one will get the blame for unpopular decisions, even those taken for purely legal reasons.

Frequently, however, highly unpopular decisions have proved to be absolutely right over the longer term. Examples in Formula One are the elimination of qualifying cars, the imposition of a single engine for the entire race weekend and the engine freeze, while in the World Rally Championship we have the ending of roadside servicing, the elimination of three-week 'reconnaissance' and an expanded calendar.

At the time, these changes provoked furious responses from many competing teams. Yet today, none would want to go back to the old ways. Indeed, some might have had to shut down but for the changes. There are endless further examples at all levels of the sport. This shows how important strong, experienced leadership is for the FIA.

I am especially grateful to all those colleagues who, over the past 16 years, have shared the burden of the decision-making in our Federation. The commitment of our council and commission members, volunteer officials, expert consultants and employed staff is second-to-none. The successes we have achieved would not have been possible without you.

Of course, in the last year or two, the degree of controversy about the FIA and my role as President reached new heights. In particular, we had to deal with the theft by a top Formula One team of the entire intellectual property of their main rival.

More recently, we had an extraordinary plot to crash a car deliberately during a race. Again there was controversy, but this time the car manufacturer concerned took action and the truth was quickly established. It is always difficult, but these problems have to be tackled decisively if Formula One is to remain credible.

In my experience, the FIA membership is overwhelmingly understanding and wise. This was very evident in respect of my recent personal difficulties. That is why I am especially proud and grateful to have had the unique opportunity to serve as your President for the past 16 years. It is also why I am confident that the FIA will recognise how complex and difficult is the task confronting my successor and his team. The election is a transparent and democratic contest, and I know you will choose wisely.

Finally, I wish my successor and his entire team the very best for the future. I hope in a modest way through membership of the Senate and the Foundation to continue to stay in touch with the clubs and with the new leadership of the FIA, but I will only offer advice if specifically asked to do so. The time has now come for me to step back and enjoy a much quieter life.

With my very sincere thanks to you all,

Max Mosley