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FIA Director of Formula One, Charlie Whiting sadly passed away this morning (14 March 2019), in Melbourne, aged 66, as the result of a pulmonary embolism, three days ahead of the start of the F1 season.

Charlie began his F1 career in 1977 working at the Hesketh team, then in the 1980s at Brabham. His dream was to become a chief mechanic like his idol Roger Hill, and to help a driver to win a World Championship just as Hill had done with Jackie Stewart. Eventually Ecclestone promoted Charlie to exactly that role, and he would work with the engineering genius of Gordon Murray and drivers of the calibre of Niki Lauda, Carlos Pace, John Watson and the emergent Nelson Piquet.

In 1997 he became an integral part of the organisation of the FIA Formula One World Championship since he joined the Federation in 1988, and has been the Race Director since 1997.

His sudden death at just 66, sent shock waves through the paddock with tributes from:

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 One lovers.”

Formula 1’s Managing Director, Motorsports, Ross Brawn 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.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel who has known Whiting since starting out in F1 in 2007 said: "I walked the track on Wednesday for the first couple of corners with him. It is difficult to grasp when someone is just not there any more. He has been our man, the drivers' man. There's the regulation and then us, and he was the middle man. Any time his door was always open. He was a racer, just a very nice guy."

Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton, who had also known Whiting since the start of his F1 career in 2007 said: "I was incredibly shocked to hear the sad news. What he did for this sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar. Such an iconic figure and he contributed so much."

Toto Wolff Mercedes Team Principle described Whiting as a "Guardian of the sport. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Charlie's passing this morning. He was a pillar of our Formula One family – balanced in his approach, subtle in his understanding and always with the interests of Formula One as his main focus. On behalf of the entire Mercedes motorsport family, I send our deepest sympathies to Charlie’s family and friends.”

Main image provided courtesy of SKY SPORTS


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