Formula One race director Charlie Whiting has died from a pulmonary embolism three days before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. He was 66.
FIA, the federation for international auto racing, issued a statement saying Whiting died Thursday morning in Melbourne.
FIA President Jean Todt described Whiting as “a great race director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport.”
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the lung, usually caused by a blood clot.
Whiting began his F1 career in 1977 working at the Hesketh team and the Englishman later moved to Bernie Eccelstone’s Brabham team in the 1980s. He joined FIA in 1988 and became a race director in 1997.
“Formula One has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie,” Todt said in a statement. “All my thoughts, those of the FIA and entire motor sport community go out to his family, friends, and all Formula One lovers.”
Whiting was active in making F1 a safer sport and was widely acknowledged as a calming influence.
F1 Motorsports manager director Ross Brawn said he was devastated after losing a longtime friend.