Charlie Whiting, the long-serving Formula One race director, has died suddenly at the age of 66.
Whiting died on Thursday from a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne where he was due to work this weekend, sparking an outpouring of emotion from the Formula One community.
The FIA confirmed that Whiting had passed away in the southern Australian city where the 2019 F1 season is due to start on Saturday.
Charlie Whiting, the long-serving Formula One race director, has died suddenly aged 66
Lewis Hamilton (right) posted this on his Instagram story after hearing the sad news
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton said: ‘What he did for the sport and his commitment, he really was a pillar.
CHARLIE WHITINGS CAREER:
1977 – Joins Hesketh Racing
1981 – Becomes chief mechanic for Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team
1998 – Is made FIA Technical Delegate to Formula One
1997-2018 – FIA Director and Safety Delegate
‘I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007… what he did for the sport, his commitment, he really was an iconic figure.’
The defending world champion also posted a message on Instagram with a picture of himself alongside Whiting.
He wrote: ‘I’ve just this minute heard of Charlie Whiting’s death this morning and I am shook. Can’t believe it, naturally and ultimately deeply saddened. Charlie did so much for this sport and helping push on so many areas for the drivers and their safety. My condolences to his family, I really enjoyed our talks over the years Charlie, you will be missed by us all. God rest your soul buddy.’
Sebastian Vettel spoke to Whiting the day before his death and reflected: ‘You could ask anything at any time, his door was always open.
‘He was a racer, he was just a very nice guy.’
Whiting had worked in the sport for more than 40 years and as race director since 1997
Whiting rose through the ranks and dealt with top talent such as Michael Schumacher
FIA President Jean Todt said: ‘It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing. I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great race director, a central and inimitable figure in F1 who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport.
‘F1 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 F1 lovers.’
The FIA confirmed Whiting had died of a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of the vessels in the lungs.
Whiting had worked in the sport for more than 40 years, beginning his career in 1977 working at the Hesketh team, then in the 1980s with Brabham.
He joined the FIA 1988, and had been the race director of F1 since 1997, becoming a well known figure for fans and drivers alike.
Tributes began to pour in on Thursday night – Friday morning in Melbourne – after the news broke as the world of motorsport mourned his death.
The former race director was held in high regard after a long career in the sport
Whiting was a hugely popular figure among the drivers and was due to work this weekend
Ross Brawn, managing director of F1, said: ‘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 mepersonally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.’
The official McLaren Twitter feed posted: ‘All at McLaren are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of Charlie Whiting’s passing.
‘Charlie will be remembered as one of the giants of our sport, as well as a great colleague. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all of his loved ones.’
Christian Horner, team principal at Red Bull Racing, said Whiting was a man with ‘great integrity’ and ‘performed a difficult role in a balanced way’.
Christian Horner hailed Whiting as a ‘voice of reason’ in the chaos of Formula One
He added: ‘Charlie has played a key role in this sport and has been the referee and voice of reason as Race Director for many years.
‘At heart, he was a racer with his origins stretching back to his time at Hesketh and the early days of Brabham.
‘Charlie was a great man who will be sadly missed by the entire Formula 1 paddock and the wider motorsport community.’
McLaren’s British driver, Lando Norris, wrote: ‘I think everyone is the paddock is gonna miss Charlie. Very sad news to all of us. Thoughts to his family and friends. Thanks for all you’ve done for our sport. #RestInPeace’.
His fellow British rookie, George Russell, said: ‘I’m deeply saddened to hear the news of Charlie Whiting’s passing. Such a huge figure in the world of motor sport. All of my thoughts are with his family and his many friends right now. We’ll all miss him very much.’