Former Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president Jean-Marie Balestre has passed away at the age of 86.

According to reports by the Frenchman died on Thursday. He would have celebrated his 87 birthday early next month.

Balestre was born on April 9 1921 and during the Second World War was an under cover agent for the French Resistance.

In 1950 he jointly established a magazine called Autojournal and nine years later formed the French national karting authority.

He was elected president of the French national motor sport authority (FFSA) in 1973 and then became president of the now defunct Federation Interionale du Sport Automobile (FISA) in 1978 - what was then the sporting arm of the FIA.

His disputes with Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley resulted in the FISA-FOCA war of 1980-81, which was eventually resolved with the signing of the first Concorde Agreement. Under it the commercial rights of F1 came under the control of Ecclestone and the teams, while the FIA kept the control of the sporting and technical regulations.

In 1987 he gained the presidency of the FIA, a position he held until 1993, when he stood down due to ill health.

Two years earlier he had lost his position as president of FISA to Max Mosley. Mosley later merged the two bodies.

During his time in power, in addition to the FISA-FOCA war Balestre also made waves when he famously fell out with Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian claimed he had favoured arch rival, Alain Prost in 1989 and influenced the result of the championship. Senna was subsequently forced to apologise before his super licence would be issued for 1990.

He also did much to improve safety too, including introducing mandatory crash tests, something that has no doubt saved many drivers from serious injury and death - possibly, one of his most important legacies. would like to join the F1 and motorsport community in general in extending its thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Jean-Marie Balestre.