In Brief

Charlie Whiting: F1 drivers pay tribute after race director dies aged 66

FIA director of Formula 1 passed away as a result of a pulmonary embolism

Formula 1 drivers and officials have paid tribute to the sport’s race director Charlie Whiting who passed away this morning in Melbourne, aged 66.

Whiting’s death comes just three days before the Australian Grand Prix - the opening race of the 2019 F1 season. F1.com reports that Whiting passed away as the result of a pulmonary embolism.

Sky Sports writer James Galloway described Whiting as a “pillar of the sport”. Galloway said: “Whiting became one of F1’s most respected, influential and well-liked figures across five decades in the paddock.”

The BBC’s Andrew Benson added: “One of the most influential people in the sport, Whiting was the official race starter and oversaw all rules matters in F1.”

‘F1 has lost a faithful friend’

Whiting began his career in F1 in 1977 and 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 1 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, 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.”

Drivers and teams pay tribute

Current F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: “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.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: “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.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull: “Of course it was a big shock, especially because I spent the day with him in Geneva a few weeks ago and we had a good chat, just about a lot of things. When I left I said see you in Australia for another season of racing and of course when you hear this news, it’s unbelievable. Just 66 years old, so I guess we just have to appreciate every day and every morning you wake up, and that you enjoy life and that it’s not only about Formula 1 but about a lot of other things in life – this is just one part of it. I think at the moment, what is the most important is that thoughts are going to family and friends and close ones.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal: “I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Charlie’s passing this morning. He was a pillar of our Formula 1 family – balanced in his approach, subtle in his understanding and always with the interests of Formula 1 as his main focus. Charlie was a fantastic ambassador for our sport and a true guardian of its best interests; all of us who were lucky enough to know him will miss his ready smile and gentle humour.”

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal: “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.”

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