Obituary: Charlie Whiting 1952-2019
Graham Read, Formula 1 Correspondent
The Formula 1 world has been left shocked and saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of the sport’s Race Director, Permanent Starter and Safety Delegate Charlie Whiting on the eve of the opening Grand Prix of the new season in Australia.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, released a statement advising of 66 year old Whiting’s death in Melbourne due to a pulmonary embolism and the President Jean Todt commented that he was “a great Race Director and a central and inimitable figure in Formula 1, who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport”.
Born in 1952, Whiting had been a constant presence in the Formula 1 paddock for over 40 years. He began his F1 career back in 1977 as a mechanic for the Hesketh team before joining Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham squad and rising to chief engineer.
In 1988 he moved to the FIA’s technical team, a poacher turned gamekeeper, and two years later became the Technical Delegate. He subsequently became Race Director, Permanent Starter and Safety Delegate, three roles he had held until his passing this week. These will now be dealt with in Australia by existing Deputy Race Director Michael Masi. Whiting had always been an active campaigner for improved safety in Formula 1 and was instrumental in the introduction of the halo cockpit protection structure at the start of last season.
Whiting was respected and trusted by all the drivers, with whom he had constant contact at every Grand Prix race meeting. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner explained that “Charlie has played a key role in this sport and has been the referee and voice of reason as Race Director for many years”, with Ferrari’s new Team Principal Mattia Binotto adding “he was a true professional and extremely knowledgeable, but more than that, he was a wonderful person who always treated everyone with respect”.
Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel expressed his sadness and feeling of loss, saying “I spoke to Charlie only yesterday as we walked around the first few corners of the track together. He was a racer, a drivers’ guy”.
Rest in peace, Charlie. You will be sadly missed by all of us in the Formula 1 world and fans around the globe.
Obituary: Charlie Whiting 1952-2019, 14th March 2019, 14:54 PM