The motorsport community has come together to shower their tribute towards F1 race director Charlie Whiting, who passed away early on March 14.
While gearing up for the start of the 2019 F1 season in Australia, Whiting lost his life in the early hours of March 14 due to sudden pulmonary embolism, sending shock waves in all of the motor racing community all across the globe.
Whiting has been a well known figure in F1 and connected well with not only his bosses and colleagues in the FIA but also all the drivers and the team officials in the paddock. A dedicated service for two decades only raised the respect for the person.
Personally, I never got much chance to interact with Whiting but got the chance in last year’s Abu Dhabi GP when the new F3 car was launched at the Yas Marina circuit. As expected, he answered the questions put forward at ease.
Ever since the news broke in the early hours, the motor racing community at large have continued to pour in heartfelt messages on various platforms. The FIA will wear black armbands themselves for this weekend’s Australian GP.
With the sudden demise, they have roped in Australian Supercars championship’s deputy race director Michael Masi in the role of F1’s race director, safety delegate and permanent starter for the 2019 season-opener in Melbourne.
Here’s how the motor racing community has reacted to the news:
It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie Whiting’s passing. He was a central & inimitable figure who embodied the ethics & spirit of motor sport. @F1 has lost a faithful friend & a charismatic ambassador. All my thoughts & those of @FIA go out to his family & friends pic.twitter.com/RhCR1M5rJL
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) March 14, 2019
Toto Wolff: "I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Charlie's passing this morning. "He was a pillar of our…
Everyone at Scuderia Ferrari is deeply saddened to hear that Charlie Whiting has passed away. Comment from Team…
We are shocked and saddened to hear of Charlie Whiting’s passing and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. pic.twitter.com/gRDunCfb72
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 14, 2019
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting. Charlie was one of the pillars and leaders…
We are deeply saddened to hear of our friend Charlie Whiting’s passing.
We send our condolences to his family at this difficult time. The entire motorsport community is in mourning. https://t.co/VlnvFVMxkh
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 14, 2019
All at McLaren are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of Charlie Whiting's passing. Charlie will be remembered as one of the giants of our sport, as well as a great colleague. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all of his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/DmrSZAT4Cc
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 14, 2019
SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team is deeply saddened by the news of Charlie Whiting’s sudden passing. Formula 1 has lost a…
Scuderia Toro Rosso is deeply saddened to hear the news Charlie Whiting, FIA Director of Formula One, has passed away.
The team sends its condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time. Charlie will be sorely missed by many in the Motorsport community
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) March 14, 2019
The entire motorsport community has suffered a huge loss today and is left behind with fond memories of one of the most fantastic figures in the history of our sport. Our sincerest condolences go out to Charlie Whiting’s family, friends and colleagues. #Formula1 pic.twitter.com/SUIrqu7NTx
— Alfa Romeo Racing (@alfaromeoracing) March 14, 2019
We are terribly saddened to hear of Charlie Whiting's passing. Charlie was a true legend of the sport and will be greatly missed. Everyone's thoughts at Williams are with his family and friends at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/rWBjYuank9
— ROKiT WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) March 14, 2019
Sending our deepest sympathies to the @F1 paddock after the loss of FIA F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting.
Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/eNGhuFroIE
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) March 14, 2019
Like the rest of the #F1 family, we’re all extremely saddened to learn of the passing of FIA F1 Director Charlie Whiting. A true gentleman and friend, who we worked closely with since our arrival in F1, and an absolute legend of the sport who will be incredibly missed every day.
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) March 14, 2019
We are filled with sadness today at the news of the passing of FIA Director of F1 Charlie Whiting.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
— Formula 2 (@FIA_F2) March 14, 2019
Really sad to hear about the passing of Charlie Whiting. He cared so much for us drivers! For our safety and for trying to keep things fair out on track. My thoughts are especially you, Mrs. Whiting and your children.#ThankYouCharlie #CharlieWithing
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) March 14, 2019
Have known Charlie Whiting for a very long time ,shocked at the news of his death.His professionalism and judgement was second to none R.I.P
— Nigel Mansell CBE (@nigelmansell) March 14, 2019
Really saddened and shocked to hear about the passing of Charlie Whiting today.
I have some great memories with him from over the years, and it was only a few weeks ago that we had a lovely meal together catching up.
How very sad, my thoughts are with his loved ones 😥 pic.twitter.com/utX1SkPEAh
— Andy Priaulx MBE (@andypriaulx) March 14, 2019
We are deeply saddened by the news that @F1 Race Director, Charlie Whiting, has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends. Motorsport has lost a true icon pic.twitter.com/3To0rLTrMD
— Aston Martin (@astonmartin) March 14, 2019
We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of @F1 race director Charlie Whiting’s unexpected passing. We would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
— IMSA (@IMSA) March 14, 2019
— Nani Rodriguez (@RodriguezNani) March 14, 2019
Beyond shocked and sad at passing of my long time friend, Charlie Whiting. A great man who loved everything F1. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/iHo4cJoObS
— Derek Daly (@DerekDaly500) March 14, 2019
Woke up (I’m in Europe) with the sad news that Charlie Whiting died. My tribute and full respect to a lovely guy and true professional.. motorsport lost a key figure !
— LUCAS DI GRASSI (@LucasdiGrassi) March 14, 2019
Sad times with the passing of Charlie Whiting. You’ll be missed matey.😔 pic.twitter.com/Ij74m584GG
— Mark Webber (@AussieGrit) March 14, 2019
Totally shocking news of Charlie Whiting’s passing. Charlie was a true Giant in our sport and very possibly irreplaceable. Sincere condolences to his family and everyone who appreciated this man. RIPmyfriend.
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) March 14, 2019
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In utter shock to hear the news about Charlie’s passing. He always had the drivers safety and concerns in hand and didn’t worry about putting us in our place when we acted out of line. We’ve lost such a lovely kind human being today who will be sadly missed by many. My heart goes out to his family at this very difficult time. RIPCharlie #Repost @f1 ・・・ We are filled with immense shock and sadness at Charlie Whiting's passing. . He will be remembered as a giant of the sport, as well as a dear friend to so many. . Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all of his friends and family.
Very sad and surreal news ahead the Australian GP. Can’t believe it..
My thoughts are with the family and friends.
He’s done so much for the sport we love.
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) March 14, 2019
"He was a great man, he did an amazing job for F1 over the years"
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 14, 2019
— #MsportXtra (@MsportXtra) March 14, 2019
Several drivers also spoke in Australia’s press conference including Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who walked the track for a fair bit on Wednesday with Whiting:
“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. It’s difficult to grasp when somebody’s just not there anymore.
“I’ve known him for a long time and he was sort of our man, our drivers’ man. Obviously there’s regulations and all that and then there’s us and he was the middle man. He was someone you could ask anything, at any time.
“He was open to everyone, any time his door was always open. He was a racer, he was just a very nice guy… The whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula 1, all our thoughts are with him and especially his family in these difficult circumstances.”
Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve known Charlie Whiting since I started in 2007… Obviously incredibly shocked this morning to hear the sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. 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. May he rest in peace.”
Robert Kubica: “It’s a hard moment. I saw Sebastian walking with Charlie Whiting yesterday and I thought I would not interrupt them because I was going to see him on Friday in the drivers’ briefing. Unfortunately that will not be the case. It’s very sad.
“He was a kind of icon of Formula 1 but not only Formula 1. He was… a racer, also keeping up everything in the regulations. He was really the kind of person you could always trust and commit, so it’s a very sad moment. My thoughts are with his family.”
Max Verstappen: “Of course it was a big shock, especially because I spent the day with him in Geneva a few weeks ago and we had a good chat, just about a lot of things. When I left I said see you in Australia for another season of racing and of course when you hear this news, it’s unbelievable.
“Just 66 years old, so I guess we just have to appreciate every day and every morning you wake up, and that you enjoy life and that it’s not only about Formula 1 but about a lot of other things in life – this is just one part of it. I think at the moment, what is the most important is that thoughts are going to family and friends and close ones.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s not the nicest news to walk into. Just taken aback by it, for sure. He was there for us. We gave him a hard time, we would really press him and push him and make him work but he was always really receptive and you always felt like he was on our side.
“Like a broken record, a lot of things we would probably complain about and he never really shut it down. He was open and did a lot for the sport. We’ll have some, obviously, very, very nice and positive memories about him.
“I remember my first Aussie GP in 2012, going up with Franz [Tost] and they said go and introduce yourself to Charlie, it’s the start of the new season, go and start the relationship on a good note.
“Time goes fast, but as Max touched on, it’s important to appreciate each moment. You do take it for granted. I’m sure we’ll all race with a lot of passion this weekend, and it’s just a reminder as well that we’re very lucky to be in this position.”
Sergio Perez: “It was fantastic [to work with Charlie Whiting]. He was such a good guy. It’s very rare in this sport to meet such a peaceful guy, lovely guy, close friend. I have nothing bad to say about him, to be honest. Nothing. It’s only good things.
“All my thoughts go to his family. We travelled the world together for many years, he did more than I did obviously, but it’s sad, you know? Someone like him, it’s going to be impossible to find a replacement for him. He’s one of those key players in the sport.
“He had such a relationship with all the drivers, with all the team principals, so it’s going to be hard to replace him. I wish his family all my best. I heard he actually had some plans to go to Mexico with his family, his next holiday was going to be in Mexico, I saw him yesterday.
“Everyone is shocked, very sad with this news. But at the same time, I’m sure that if Charlie was here he will love… to see us racing, have a good show on Sunday, that will make him happy. But definitely all my thoughts are with his beautiful family.”
Romain Grosjean: “He was very supportive of the drivers, he was our way, our interface to speak, to get our opinions. [I’ve done] 145 Grands Prix so 145 briefings with him. And then sometimes in the stewards’ room as well. He will be greatly missed.”
Carlos Sainz: “I remember my rookie year he spent a lot of time with me. I remember him as an extremely… attentive [person]. Really wanting to listen to my opinion, and it shocked me, because I was a rookie and I thought my opinion didn’t count much when I arrived to Formula 1, but he gave me the opportunity to immediately [be listened to] and even if I was 20 years old and I had done three races in F1, he came to me, talked to me, what do you think, what would you do better.
“He was very open, open to young drivers. I remember my first year being particularly aggressive and he was not coming to me to tell me to calm down – he was saying I think it’s great what you are doing to Formula 1, both Max and you are showing new kind of standards of driving a bit more aggressively and raising some questions with moving under braking.
“He didn’t tell me to stop, he just told me, ‘Just be careful, you’re great for F1, keep doing it that way as everyone is enjoying seeing you guys battle and I enjoyed it a lot’. He was that kind of guy, was very open, open for a chat. In my first year of F1, that shocked me quite a lot.
“When I heard the news today I was devastated as he’s one of those guys that I’ve always enjoyed chatting to. I’ve spent the winter sharing emails with him on how to improve the sports, do more meetings with stewards, organise ourselves to join stewards and drivers in a more productive way.”
Daniil Kvyat: “It’s very sad news that just came out of nowhere really. Personally I knew him well. We had some really nice conversations. He was always really nice and fair to me. We discussed many episodes that happened to me on the track, person to person, and we also sometimes had a cup of tea outside the track, even maybe after some races to discuss some things about the general sport, he asked some opinions of mine… He will be very much missed, but he left a very big mark on our lives as drivers, and a mark in the sport in general.”
In addition to several of the current F1 racers, many of the past ones along with many junior racers or drivers of other championships have shared their support messages as well on their social media for Whiting including most of the circuits, which host the F1 races.