Formula One’s long-standing race director, Charlie Whiting, died on Thursday due to pulmonary embolism, just three days before the start of the Australian Grand Prix. Considered as one of the motorsport’s most respected figures, British-born Whiting, 66, was in Melbourne to officiate the start of the 2019 season, reports Xinhua news agency. “It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing,” Federation International De L’Automobile (FIA) President, Jean Todt said. “I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great race director, a central and inimitable figure in F1 who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport,” he added.
Whiting was the F1 race director since 1997, beginning his career with the sport in 1977 and rising to prominence as chief mechanic for the Brabham team. As an advocate for improving driver safety, Whiting was instrumental in pushing through the new life-saving halo devices for vehicles. It is not yet clear how the FIA will replace Whiting who, in his role, was responsible for everything rules related, ranging from qualifying and racing, to safety.