By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
On the eve before the first on-track activity for the Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park commences, FIA Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting, 66, passed away in Melbourne Thursday morning.
In a statement released by the FIA, Whiting’s cause of death was a result of pulmonary embolism.
FIA President Jean Todt sent his condolences to Whiting: “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.”
Prior of becoming the leading director of F1 in 1997, Whiting began his career as an employee of the Hesketh Racing team in 1977 until its demise the following season.
From there, he became a force to be reckoned with as a chief mechanic for Brabham in the 1980s, where he played a pivotal role in Nelson Piquet’s 1981 and 1983 F1 World Championships. In those two championship campaigns, Piquet won a combined six races, five poles, and 15 podiums in 30 starts.
Whiting would stay with Brabham until Bernie Ecclestone sold the team in 1988. Under Ecclestone’s blessing, he would take a role as FIA’s Technical Delegate.
Nine years later, Whiting was promoted as the new director and safety delegate, where he oversaw various tasks such as track and car safety, and enforced how the grand prix weekends goes, including the start of the race.
“Formula 1 has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie,” said Todt. “All my thoughts, those of the FIA and entire motor sport community go out to his family, friends, and all Formula One lovers.”