Charlie Whiting dead: F1 in shock as race director passes away on eve of new season
FIA president Jean Todt confirmed the news on Thursday morning, saying that the Englishman died as a result of a pulmonary embolism.
Whiting had been in Melbourne for the first Formula 1 race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, this coming Sunday.
He was immensely popular within the F1 paddock, and had a close relationship with many drivers as a result of the annual Drivers’ Race Meeting that he held.
The day of his passing, Whiting had been in the Albert Park paddock interacting with drivers.
READ MORE: LEWIS HAMILTON PAYS TRIBUTE TO CHARLIE WHITING
In his role as race director, Whiting was the lead official for race weekends, and controlled rule changes, safety requirements, and driver liaison.
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 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, F1’s managing director of motorsports, 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 me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole.
“All our thoughts go out to his family.”
The Australian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned but tributes will be paid to Whiting.
Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to Whiting on his Instagram page, and spoke about his impact on the sport.
“I’ve just this minute heard of Charlie Whiting’s death this morning and I am shook,” he wrote.
“Can’t believe it naturally and ultimately deeply saddened.