Infotainment Factory: F1 rocked by sudden death on eve of season

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Wednesday, 13 March 2019

F1 rocked by sudden death on eve of season


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Formula One’s longtime race director Charlie Whiting has died just days before the Australian Grand Prix opens the 2019 season.

A statement from the sport’s governing body confirmed the 66-year-old died from a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne.

FIA president Jean Todt said: “It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing.

“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 has been involved in Formula One since he stared working for the now-defunct Hesketh team in 1977. He was a pivotal figure in Nelson Piquet’s world titles with Brabham in 1981 and 1983, before joining the FIA in 1988, and becoming the race director in 1997.

Charlie Whiting

His role as race director involved track and car safety, as well as starting the race, and deciding when to deploy the safety car. Drivers would often be heard on their radio imploring their team to “tell Charlie” if they felt intervention was required.

One of his greatest controversies came at the 2005 United States Grand Prix, when Michelin’s tyres weren’t safe to race at Indianapolis. Whiting refused to install a chicane at the last corner to allow the teams to race safely, on the grounds that it would disadvantage those teams using the rival Bridgestone tyres. When all Michelin runners withdrew, the race went ahead with just six cars taking part.

Whiting was also one of those responsible for the introduction of the halo device in 2018, which is credited with saving Charles Leclerc from serious injury or even death during the Belgium Grand Prix in August.

Speaking in 2018, Whiting said the halo was one of a number of changes made over the years that improved driver safety.

“I agree about the introduction of the halo and that played a part, but you must not forget over the years all the far less visible things that have been done to improve safety of the survival cell, side impact structures, frontal impact structures, strengthen the survival cell itself, high cockpit sides, the headrest,” he said.

“All of those things have been done gradually over the years and they also play a part in the outcome.”

Formula One’s longtime race director Charlie Whiting has died just days before the Australian Grand Prix opens the 2019 season.

A statement from the sport’s governing body confirmed the 66-year-old died from a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne.

FIA president Jean Todt said: “It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing.

“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 has been involved in Formula One since he stared working for the now-defunct Hesketh team in 1977. He was a pivotal figure in Nelson Piquet’s world titles with Brabham in 1981 and 1983, before joining the FIA in 1988, and becoming the race director in 1997.

Charlie Whiting

His role as race director involved track and car safety, as well as starting the race, and deciding when to deploy the safety car. Drivers would often be heard on their radio imploring their team to “tell Charlie” if they felt intervention was required.

One of his greatest controversies came at the 2005 United States Grand Prix, when Michelin’s tyres weren’t safe to race at Indianapolis. Whiting refused to install a chicane at the last corner to allow the teams to race safely, on the grounds that it would disadvantage those teams using the rival Bridgestone tyres. When all Michelin runners withdrew, the race went ahead with just six cars taking part.

Whiting was also one of those responsible for the introduction of the halo device in 2018, which is credited with saving Charles Leclerc from serious injury or even death during the Belgium Grand Prix in August.

Speaking in 2018, Whiting said the halo was one of a number of changes made over the years that improved driver safety.

“I agree about the introduction of the halo and that played a part, but you must not forget over the years all the far less visible things that have been done to improve safety of the survival cell, side impact structures, frontal impact structures, strengthen the survival cell itself, high cockpit sides, the headrest,” he said.

“All of those things have been done gradually over the years and they also play a part in the outcome.”

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