Formula One boss Charlie Whiting dies suddenly aged 66

Formula One boss Charlie Whiting dies suddenly aged 66

The veteran racing steward and FIA race director died after suffering a pulmonary embolism on Thursday morning in Melbourne.

Whiting's first involvement in Formula 1 was in 1977 with Hesketh Racing, before joining Brabham and progressing his way to chief mechanic where he helped guide Nelson Piquet to the World Driver' Championship in 1981 and 1983. It was there he got to know Bernie Ecclestone and when the billionaire sold the team to focus on running Formula One, Whiting went along with him to become Grand Prix Race Director.

The Federation's president, Jean Todt, said, "It is with enormous sadness that I learned of Charlie's passing".

Tributes have begun to fly in for Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting, 66, who unexpectedly died on Thursday in Melbourne, Australia, due to a pulmonary embolism.

In a statement FIA president Jean Todt said Formula One has lost "a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador".

"Charlie was a great man who will be sadly missed by the entire Formula 1 paddock and the wider motorsport community".

At the FIA, Whiting was a driving force in pushing improved safety and played a key role in the introduction of the halo, the ring-like barrier fitted over the drivers' heads to protect them from heavy impacts and missiles.

His role involved managing the logistics of each grand prix, inspecting cars in parc ferme, and acting as the "referee" during races.

Masi has previously acted as Race Director in the V8 Supercars and its Super2 feeder series, and has also had involvement in Formula E.

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"I guess I was as shocked as we all still are now, especially since I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him", said Vettel.

In an interview with RaceFans, Ecclestone expressed sadness after learning of Whiting's passing, adding that he would leave Formula 1 with a huge void that would be hard to fill. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

"I've known him for a long time and he was sort of our man, our drivers' man".

Former champions McLaren said they were "shocked and deeply saddened", by the news. "There's the regulations, then there's us - he was the middle man".

"He was a man with great integrity who performed a hard role in a balanced way", he said.

"At heart, he was a racer with his origins stretching back to his time at Hesketh and the early days of Brabham", Horner added.

"He [Whiting] was a kind of icon of F1, but not only F1".

"It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula One family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole".