Charlie Whiting, Formula 1‘s Racing Director, has passed away at the age of 66, just days ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Whiting was seen in the paddock at Albert Park performing his official duties on Wednesday.
The FIA announced that the long-serving Race Director of the sport had died of a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne. Whiting has served in his role as FIA Race Director since 1997.
The Briton started in Formula 1 with the Hesketh Racing team in 1977. Whiting later moved to the Brabham team and rose through the ranks to become the chief mechanic of the team.
Whiting was closely associated with the then owner of the Brabham team Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone later became the Formula One Group Chief Executive and managed the sport until 2017.
With Ecclestone’s blessing Whiting became FIA Technical Delegate in 1988. In 1997, Whiting was appointed Racing Director and Safety Delegate, a position he has held until his untimely demise.
After the unfortunate death of Jules Bianchi due to his fatal accident at the 2014 Japanese GP, Whiting was instrumental in the introduction of the Halo Protection System last season.
Formula 1 Mourns the Passing of Charlie Whiting
The Formula 1 fraternity has made the long haul flight to Australia for the first race of the season. With winter testing done and dusted, the teams were getting ready to participate in the first race of the season. The unfortunate death of Whiting has seen a pall of gloom descend on the paddock.
“It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing,” said FIA President Jean Todt. “I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great Race Director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport.
“Formula 1 has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie. All my thoughts, those of the FIA and entire motor sport community go out to his family, friends, and all Formula 1 lovers.”
Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports in Formula 1, added: “I have known Charlie for all of my racing life. We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world.
“I was filled with immense sadness when I heard the tragic news. I’m devastated. It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.”
Whiting played a central role in conducting the Grand Prix races according to the regulations of Formula 1. It remains to be seen who will temporarily take over his role at the Australian GP this weekend.