Formula One race director dies on eve of new season

Charlie Whiting was a popular and key figure in F1 with duties ranging from pushing for improved safety to enforcing rules

Charlie Whiting was a popular and key figure in F1 with duties ranging from pushing for improved safety to enforcing rules

"It is with vast sadness that I learnt of Charlie's sudden passing", FIA president Jean Todt said in a statement.

Formula One and the governing FIA will present teams with a "global package" of proposed rules for the 2021 season at a meeting in London on March 26, FIA president Jean Todt said on Friday.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association have paid tribute to Charlie Whiting, asserting his legacy will last forever in Formula 1, following his death on Thursday.

In 1988 he joined the FIA Formula 1 World Championship Federation, before becoming racing director in 1997.

"He's been sort of our man - the driver's man", Vettel said. He also played a key role in circuit safety and homologation - including several WTCR / OSCARO venues - along with a number of other notable initiatives.

Australian Michael Masi, who was due to be one of two deputy race directors for the event, will take over the bulk of Whiting's responsibilities for the event. He had many roles during a race weekend, including overseeing technical and procedural matters, doing driver briefings, listening to the driver and team complaints and, of course, starting the race.

"What he did for this sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar".

Christian Horner, team principal at Red Bull Racing, said Whiting was a man with "great integrity" and "performed a hard role in a balanced way".

"He has been our man, the drivers' man".

Charlie's vast knowledge of the sport, integrity and dedication to his work is irreplaceable and he will be dearly missed.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel could not believe the news as he met Whiting only on Wednesday.

"I was as shocked as we all are, still now, when I heard the news this morning, especially because I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him". I think we've got to solidify those regulations to have those discussions. He was someone you could ask anything, at any time.

"I have known Charlie for all of my racing life", said Ross Brawn, Managing Director of F1.

The future of the organisation of this F1 department is something we have touched on now for quite a while including with Charlie because we knew he would not be able to have the position for ever, so we were working and thinking about a future plan. "We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world", he said in a statement.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: "Charlie was one of the good guys. All our thoughts go out to his family".

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