Formula One director Charlie Whiting died Thursday at 66

Ryan Young
·Writer
MONZA, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Christian Karembeu of France watches FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting wave the starting flag of the Heineken Champions of the Grid go-kart race ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on August 31, 2017 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Guido De Bortoli/Getty Images)
FIA director of Formula One Charlie Whiting died Thursday morning after suffering a pulmonary embolism, just days before of the start of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. (Bortoli/Getty Images)

Charlie Whiting, FIA’s director of Formula One and a longtime leader in the series, died on Thursday morning in Melbourne, Australia, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was 66.

Whiting, who has worked as the director since 1997, was in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Grand Prix — which kicks off the new season this weekend. Whiting was in charge of all activity on the track during a race weekend, including the start procedure, running of the race, safety and other technical matters.

“It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing,” FIA president Jean Todt said in a statement. “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.”

Whiting began his F1 career in 1977 while working on the Hesketh team before shifting to Brabham in the 1980s — where he won world championships with the team in 1981 and 1983. He joined the FIA as a technical director in 1988.

FIA has not yet announced who will take Whiting’s place this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to start Sunday morning in Melbourne.

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