Formula 1 Mourns Sudden Death of Longtime Race Director Charlie Whiting

Whiting suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism in Melbourne, just days before he was scheduled to kick off the 2019 F1 season.

2019 Formula 1 Season Launch Melbourne Mar 13th
Action Plus via Getty Images—2019 Action Plus

Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting passed away unexpectedly on March 14, the day before the first practice session of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Whiting's cause of death was stated to be a pulmonary embolism, or a blockage of an artery in his lungs. 

Race director duties for the Australian Grand Prix will reportedly be handled by Michael Masi, former deputy race director for Australia's Supercars Championship, known colloquially as V-8 Supercars.

Whiting was involved in the racing world for much of his life, with Motorsport reporting that Whiting recalled breaking into race circuit Brands Hatch to see the 1964 British Grand Prix. He sought technical schooling and eventually became a race mechanic, climbing into F1 via Hesketh team, and later Brabham. At Brabham, Whiting was moved by the death of his team's driver Elio de Angelis, which planted seeds for crucial safety advancements Charlie would push after leaving the ailing Brabham team for the FIA.

Whiting ascended to the role of race starter in 1996 and was promoted to circuit safety delegate and race director in 1997. In this role, he called for the implementation of the halo, which is credited for preventing Charles Leclerc from facing serious injury at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix

"I have known Charlie for all of my racing life," commented F1's managing director of motorsports, Ross Brawn, a Brabham-era compatriot of Whiting's. "We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world. I was filled with immense sadness when I heard the tragic news. I'm devastated. It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family."