FIA Director of Formula One, Charlie Whiting, has passed away this morning (14 March 2019), in Melbourne, aged 66, as the result of a pulmonary embolism. This happens three days before the Australian Grand Prix which will open the F1 season. He began his Formula One 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 says
“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.”
Safety in Formule One
He moved to a position as FIA technical delegate, with the blessing of Bernie Ecclestone, and then became FIA director and safety delegate from 1997. His role included overseeing track and car safety, technical and procedural matters on Grand Prix weekends plus starting the race itself.
Charlie Whiting was instrumental in pushing for improved safety standards in Formule One, and was a driving force behind the introduction of the halo at the start of last year – which was credited with saving the life of Charles Leclerc after his crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.