As is the case with football's FIFA, the FIA is generally known by its French name and acronym, even in English-speaking countries, but is occasionally rendered as International Automobile Federation.
In 1922, the FIA delegated the organisation of automobile racing to the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI), an autonomous committee that later became the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA). A restructuring of the FIA in 1993 led to the disappearance of the FISA, putting motor racing under direct management of the FIA.
In 1946 the true history of Formula One began in with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA's) standardisation of rules.
In 1953, the FIA created the World Sportscar Championship, the first points series for sports car racing in the world. This championship, under various names, was solely for manufacturers up to and including 1980. From 1981, a Drivers' Championship title was also awarded and from 1985 the manufacturers' title was replaced by a Teams Championship. The last World Sportscar Championship titles were awarded in 1992.
In 1993, the National Hot Rod Association was officially recognized by the FIA World Motorsports Council and the FIA Drag Racing Commission was formed.
In 2008, the Nostalgia Hot Rod Association was officially recognized by both the FCC and the FIA as an independent entity.
The head of the FIA and chairman of the General Assembly is the President. The President is elected to a four-year term by the FIA General Assembly, and from October 2005 onward will not be permitted to serve more than two terms. The current President, who took office in 1993 and began his fourth term in 2005, is Max Mosley.
The 10-member FIA Senate consists the President of the Senate; the current and previous Presidents of the FIA; the Deputy President for the FIA Mobility and the Automobile group; the Deputy President for FIA Sport group; and five further members elected by the General Assembly. From FIA Statue #17: "The Senate takes the decisions required by the management of the FIA when circumstances do not permit a meeting of the Committee or of the World Councils, especially in cases of emergency; decisions thus taken must be confirmed during the next meeting of the Committee or of the relevant World Council."
The Senate also makes accounting and budget decisions, preparing draft budgets for the World Councils. The Senate forms sub-Committees on subjects such as Commercial Promotions, in order to make recommendations and review proposals.
The FIA World Council for Mobility and the Automobile governs all non-sporting FIA activities, and is headed by the Deputy President for Mobility and the Automobile.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council governs all the sporting events regulated by the FIA. It is also responsible for the promotion of safety in worldwide motorsport, the encouragement of standardized regulations, and the promotion of motorsport in new markets, including developing countries. The council consists of the FIA President, and Deputy President, seven FIA vice-presidents, and 17 other members. The seventeen others must represent a national sporting authority for at least one international event.
The FIA International Court of Appeal is the final appeal tribunal for international motor sport. It resolves disputes brought before it by any of motorsport’s National Sporting Authorities world-wide, or by the President of the FIA. It can also settle non-sporting disputes brought by national motoring organizations affiliated to the FIA.
Other organisations and posts include the Mobility and Automobile commissions, sporting commissions, the FIA Deputy President for Sport, and the FIA Secretariat.
Martin Brundle wrote a column in the Sunday Times entitled "Witch-hunt threatens to spoil world title race" in this he accused the FIA of a witch-hunt against McLaren. The World Motor Sport Council has responded by issuing a writ against the Sunday Times on charges of libel . Brundle hit back saying that "I have earned the right to have an opinion" and suggesting the writ was a "warning sign to other journalists.The 2007 Formula One espionage controversy involved espionage accusations against McLaren who was accused of stealing secrets from Ferrari.
This was the latest in a long line of situations in which the FIA has been perceived as making decisions which are biased towards Ferrari and its drivers, particularly Michael Schumacher. Examples have included a succession of penalties for McLaren and its driver Lewis Hamilton in 2008, failure to disqualify illegal Ferraris at the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix (thereby ensuring that Eddie Irvine retained a chance of winning that year's championship), failing to prevent the 2005 US Grand Prix tyre pullout, issuing minimal punishments for the team orders of 2002's races in Austria and America, and not issuing an on-track penalty for Felipe Massa being released into the path of Adrian Sutil at the 2008 Valencia Grand Prix.
The latest controversy occurred in the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton was given a 25-second penalty 2 hours after the race because he was deemed to have 'cut the chicane and gained an advantage' in duelling with Kimi Raikkonen. As a result Ferrari driver Felipe Massa won the race and Hamilton placed 3rd, meaning that the Hamilton's lead in the drivers table was reduced to two points over Massa instead of being extended to 8.
In 2008, accusations surfaced that FIA President Max Mosley was involved in scandalous sexual behavior. Following a June, 2008 decision of the FIA to retain Max Mosley as president, the German branch of the FIA, the ADAC (the largest European motoring body), announced, "We view with regret and incredulity the FIA general assembly's decision in Paris, confirming Max Mosley in office as FIA president." It froze all its activities with the FIA until Max Mosley leaves office. Press reports also claimed that Bernie Ecclestone was investigating creating a rival to the Formula 1 series due to the scandal.