Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting has died at the age of 66.

In a statement issued by the FIA, it has been confirmed that Whiting died on Wednesday night in Melbourne, three days before the start of the new F1 season, as a result of a pulmonary embolism.

Whiting began his F1 career in 1977 with Hesketh before a stint at Brabham, and then went on to join the FIA in 1988. He served as F1's race director since 1997, as well as being the sport's chief safety delegate.

"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," FIA president Jean Todt said.

"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."

F1 managing director for motorsports Ross Brawn 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."

Tributes were quick to pour in from across the motorsport community as it mourned the loss of Whiting, who had been a key figure in F1 across four decades. 

"I am shook. Can't believe it naturally and ultimately deeply saddened," five-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton wrote on Instagram.

"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."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: "Charlie was a true professional and extremely knowledgeable, but more than that, he was a wonderful person, who always treated everyone with respect. A tireless and enlightened motorsport expert, he helped make F1 safer and better. He was a pillar of Formula 1. Our sport is diminished by his passing and we have lost a friend. He will be greatly missed."

"Charlie has played a key role in this sport and has been the referee and voice of reason as Race Director for many years. He was a man with great integrity who performed a difficult role in a balanced way," Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner said.

"At heart, he was a racer with his origins stretching back to his time at Hesketh and the early days of Brabham. On behalf of everyone at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing we pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends. Charlie was a great man who will be sadly missed by the entire Formula 1 paddock and the wider motorsport community."

The FIA is yet to announce who will step in to the role of race director for Australia, having not officially employed a single deputy race director since the departure of Laurent Mekies to Ferrari in March 2018.

 

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