Formula One community mourns Charlie Whiting
FIA Director of Formula 1 Charlie Whiting sadly passed away this morning in Melbourne, aged 66, as the result of a pulmonary embolism, just a day before the start of the Australian Grand Prix which will open the new Formula 1 season.
Whiting was connected to Formula 1 for more than forty years, since 1977, when he began to work at the Hesketh team. Then, in the 1980s, he was working for Brabham, owned by Bernie Ecclestone. When Ecclestone focused his career on leading the Formula 1, Whiting was going with him and he became an integral part of the organisation of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. He has been the Race Director since 1997.
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, Managing Director, Motorsports, Formula 1 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.”
Many drivers also paid tributes to Charlie. Here are some comments.
“I was as shocked as we all are, still now, when I heard the news this morning, especially because I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him. It’s difficult to grasp when somebody’s just not there anymore. I’ve known him for a long time and he was sort of our man, our drivers’ man. Obviously there’s regulations and all that and then there’s us and he was the middle man. He was someone you could ask anything, at any time. He was open to everyone, any time his door was always open. He was a racer, he was just a very nice guy… The whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula 1, all our thoughts are with him and especially his family in these difficult circumstances,” Sebastian Vettel said.
“I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007… Obviously incredibly shocked this morning to hear the sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. What he did for the sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar… Such an iconic figure within the sporting world, and he contributed so much to us. May he rest in peace,” Lewis Hamilton said.
“It’s a hard moment. I saw Sebastian walking with Charlie yesterday and I thought I would not interrupt them because I was going to see him on Friday in the drivers’ briefing. Unfortunately that will not be the case. It’s very sad. He was a kind of icon of Formula 1 but not only Formula 1. He was… a racer, also keeping up everything in the regulations. He was really the kind of person you could always trust and commit, so it’s a very sad moment. My thoughts are with his family,” Robert Kubica said.
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