Charlie Whiting, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018

F1 drivers present and past pay tribute to Whiting

2019 F1 season

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The Formula 1 community was stunned by the death of FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who was in Melbourne for the first race of the new season.

It’s a sign of the widespread affection felt towards the man who spent more than two decades in charge of F1 race weekends that the so many major figures in the sport have paid tribute to him so quickly.

For the drivers, Whiting was their vital point of contact within the FIA and a vital advocate for F1’s pursuit of higher safety standards. Current and past racers have shared their thoughts on a loss which has touched all of them.

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.
Sebastian Vettel

I’ve known Charlie 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.
Lewis Hamilton

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 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.

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.
Daniel Ricciardo

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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.

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.
Max Verstappen

It’s a hard moment. I saw Sebastian walking with Charlie 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.
Robert Kubica

I think he was just you know he was the driver’s… all us drivers went to Charlie whenever we had a problem with anything, pretty much. And he was just always open to discussion and always open-minded. Most of all just a very nice person. I think over the years he’s done so much for Formula 1.

He’s definitely helped shape Formula 1 to what it is today. Just the professionalism and his competence was massive. He’s going to be sorely missed by everyone in the paddock.
Kevin Magnussen

For sure today is a bit different start to the year with the sad news in the morning, first thing I arrive in paddock, so very surreal feeling. So I just want to say my thoughts to all the closest friends and family of Charlie. For sure for everyone in Formula 1, it’s not the best way to start the season.
Valtteri Bottas

He had always a huge understanding of the sport, always tried to be fair. I had huge respect for him. So it’s very sad for us, also very sudden, I don’t tink anybody expected it. Very sad news and he will be truly missed.
Charles Leclerc

Very sad news today with the passing of Charlie. He was a true F1 lover and key figure of our sport. I’ll miss meeting and talking to him at races. He was always listening to the drivers and looking after our safety. He will be greatly missed. All my thoughts to his family.
Romain Grosjean

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My thoughts are with the family and friends. RIP, Charlie. We‘ll miss you.
Nico Hulkenberg

The whole motorsport family will miss you. Thanks for everything you did Charlie.
Pierre Gasly

Deeply saddened about Charlie’s passing. I always enjoyed a racing discussion with one of the most outstanding professionals in our sport. He will be very missed. All my sympathies with his family and friends.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

I’m deeply saddened to hear the news of Charlie Whiting’s passing. Such a huge figure in the world of motorsport. All of my thoughts are with his family and his many friends right now. We’ll all miss him very much.
George Russell

I think everyone is the paddock is going to miss Charlie. Very sad news to all of us. Thoughts to his family and friends. Thanks for all you’ve done for our sport.
Lando Norris

Rest in peace dear Charlie. You’ve left us too soon and you will be terribly missed. Forever grateful for your continued hard work and talent. My thoughts go out to your family and loved ones.
Daniil Kvyat

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.
Nico Rosberg

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.
Jenson Button

Have known Charlie Whiting for a very long time ,shocked at the news of his death. His professionalism and judgement was second to none. We send our deepest condolences to his family. Charlie will be greatly missed by all.
Nigel Mansell

A sad day for all of us, thank you for everything you did for F1 Charlie.
Esteban Ocon

So sad to hear my good friend Charlie Whiting has passed away, Chaz you will be missed and F1 will miss you as you have been part of the family a very long time. My thoughts are with friends and family.
Mark Blundell

I am so sad to hear the passing of Charlie Whiting and my thoughts are with his lovely family. He was such an incredible man and I regularly ask myself “what Charlie would do?” as he steered the sport in the right direction.
Max Chilton

Woke up 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

Very sad news about Charlie Whiting, he was a great figure in our sport and took it to the high it is. A true racer, and friend.
Paul di Resta

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “F1 drivers present and past pay tribute to Whiting”

  1. One great individual.

    1. From this side of he world, in Aotearoa New Zealand, Charlie Whiting always came across as one of the great personalities ‘behind the scenes’ in F1; it’s touching to ses the drivers’ comments. He will be missed and difficult to replace.
      – Clive ‘AlfettaMan’

  2. Derek Edwards
    14th March 2019, 11:01

    I always saw Charlie in much the same way as I viewed Sid Watkins, as somebody who was there to make sure things were done correctly by being firm if necessary, but always in a way that made the drivers feel like they were being listened to, even if they were eventually told “no”. Charlie was such a linchpin of the support for so many years, trusted so implicitly, that it is hard to see how anybody will replace him. Yes, they will take on his job, but replacing is a different matter.

    My favourite photo of him is from a few years back when Vettel was driving for Red Bull and had won some race or other. Charlie is shepherding him gently to the weighing room post-race, keen to get the ceremonies done on time, one assumes, and Vettel is near sideways in mid-air, clicking his heels together in joy. It’s a lovely moment where Seb is being indulged but Charlies is gently making sure that what needs to happen will happen.

    A great loss.

  3. I was at the GP today in Melbourne and talked about Charlie to both Dan and Seb. The look on their faces was total shock and disbelief, there was a very somber mood on the Paddock today.

  4. As a F1 and motorsport fan I shocked by the sudden death of Charlie Whiting due to a pulmonary embolism.

    However, I want to pinpoint an issue. There have been several investigations related to the impact of long flights in the body (pulmonary embolism is one of them) because you are sit in a fixed position for several hours (Europe to Australia is a good example). I know FIA can’t solve this problem but medical recommendations should be send to all motorsport teams (not just F1) regarding possible health problems nad how to deal with them. After all motorsport risks are not only present in the race itself.

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