Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting has passed away this morning, on the eve of the opening round of the 2019 season.
Age 66, Whiting was in Melbourne ahead of the year’s first grand prix, but suffered a pulmonary embolism, which results from a blood clot being caught in an artery that goes between the heart and lungs.
The FIA released a press release, stating: “FIA Director of Formula One, Charlie Whiting, has sadly passed away this morning (14 March 2019), in Melbourne, aged 66, as the result of a pulmonary embolism, three days before the Australian Grand Prix.
“He began his F1 career in 1977 working at the Hesketh team, then in the 1980s at Brabham. He has been an integral part of the organisation of the FIA Formula One World Championship since he joined the Federation in 1988, and has been the Race Director since 1997.”
FIA President Jean Todt added: “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 One lovers.”
Not only was Whiting the race director for Formula 1, but also the safety delegate, permanent starter, and head of the F1 technical department.
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His role involved managing the logistics of each grand prix, inspecting cars in parc ferme, and acting as the ‘referee’ during races.
It is unclear who will succeed Whiting as F1 race director; however Australian Michael Masi was expected to replace Whiting when he retired at the end of the year.
Masi was formerly the deputy race director of Supercars, and is working as a steward for Formula E.