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Formula One race director Charlie Whiting dies on eve of Australian GP

16 March 2019

It is as yet unclear how the FIA will proceed for the Australian Grand Prix given the enormous scope of Whiting's role across a race weekend.

The FIA has confirmed that Michael Masi will act as Race Director for this weekend's Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the death of Charlie Whiting. Formula 1 has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie.

"It is with huge sadness that I learned of Charlie's sudden passing", FIA president Jean Todt said.

The 66-year-old suffered a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne where he was due to officiate the curtain-raiser of the new season.

His role as race director involved track and auto safety, as well as starting the race, and deciding when to deploy the safety vehicle.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has been closely associated with Whiting since starting out in F1 in 2007, told BBC Sport he was "incredibly shocked to hear the sad news". "And yeah, I think at the moment what is most important is that the thoughts are going to his family and friend and close ones".

"We will miss Charlie as he has left an irreversible impact in our lives - in the life of every pilot and the sport of racing on the whole", Kvyat stated.

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"I think the word is impossible, more or less", said Ecclestone on the difficulty of the sport finding anyone of a similar stature. Fans, teams and drivers were in shock over the news, and many of Formula 1's biggest stars paid tribute to Whiting on social media.

Whiting first worked in Formula 1 for Hesketh Racing in 1977, but became best known working his way through the ranks at Brabham to become its chief mechanic.

Very rarely, it was Whiting himself who came under fire, though not for long. What he did for the sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar, such an iconic figure within the sporting world, and he contributed so much to us. Obviously there's regulations and all that and then there's us and he was the middle man.

"Any time his door was always open".

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said Whiting was "a man with great integrity who performed a hard role in a balanced way". "He was a racer and a very nice guy".

"On behalf of the entire Mercedes motorsport family, I send our deepest sympathies to Charlie's family and friends".

Formula One race director Charlie Whiting dies on eve of Australian GP