The Formula 1 world has been paying tribute to FIA director of F1 Charlie Whiting, who passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 66.
Whiting carried out multiple roles within the FIA after joining in 1988, becoming race director in 1997 and also holding the titles of safety delegate and head of the technical department. A key member of the sport, Whiting sudden passing from a pulmonary embolism has left the paddock in Melbourne in a state of shock.
“I am deeply saddened to hear the terrible news that Charlie Whiting passed away last night,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “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.
“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.”
Whiting dealt with all of the teams in a variety of ways due to his different roles, with Renault highlighting the wide-reaching impact he had on the sport.
“Renault Sport Racing was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting,” a Renault statement read. “Charlie was one of the pillars and leaders of the sport. His drive to ensure exciting, safe and fair racing was unparalleled and his passion will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. The sport will unite to continue his legacy, not just this weekend, but well into the future.”
McLaren echoed Renault’s comments, expressing its shock after Whiting spent Wednesday carrying out his regular duties at Albert Park ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
“All at McLaren are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of Charlie Whiting’s passing,” the team said in a statement. “Charlie will be remembered as one of the giants of our sport, as well as a great colleague. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all of his loved ones.”
While a number of leading drivers are due to speak during the traditional pre-race press conference, some others have taken to social media to react to the news.
“Horrible news from Melbourne,” Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc wrote on Twitter. “All my thoughts goes to Charlie’s family. The motorsport world will miss you. R.I.P.”
“Deeply saddened about Charlie’s passing,” Carlos Sainz posted. “I always enjoyed a racing discussion with one of the most outstanding professionals in our sport. He will be very missed. All my sympathies with his family and friends.”