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Whiting, Charlie

Charlie Whiting
was born on: 
Tue, 12/08/1952
Kent, England
and died on: 
Thu, 14/03/2019
Melbourne, Australia

Let there be start buttons in heaven


Charlie Whiting is a name everyone interested in Formula One knows: as Race Director, he's responsible for safety and pressing the button that turns out the red lights that launch F1 cars into races. But that's the public face. Behind the scenes, he has been a vocal advocate for drivers' safety, including the much derided "halo" until it proved its worth when Alonso's McLaren would other wise have hit Charles Leclerc on the head. As race director for 22 years he knew all the drivers well, meeting each of the several times over the course of a race weekend either individually or in groups. Race commentators would often say, when a driver made a comment over the radio relating to something that had happened on track, "he's talking to Charlie."

As the head of the Technical Delegation, Whiting had significant input into what teams could, and could not, do with their cars. While the on track stewards are the first official point of call, Whiting was often the one that drivers and teams expected to sort matters out.

Whiting had started his career in Formula One with Hesketh and at that time he and Ross Brawn struck up a close friendship that lasted. When Hesketh folded, Whiting joined the Brabham team, little realising where an association with that team's boss, Bernie Ecclestone, would take them. Together, with a handful of others, they built Formula One, both commercially and in technical development.

Whiting had travelled from his home in the UK to Melbourne, Australia, to oversee the final preparations of the temporary race track in Albert Park. With official practice due to start on 15th March, teams already in Melbourne were shocked to learn that Whiting had been found dead from a pulmonary embolism.

For a person with such a high profile position, his private life was never on display.

Image courtesy F1_images at twitter

"I spoke to him yesterday and walked for the first couple of corners of the track together with him. Difficult to grasp. He was the drivers' man. He was open to everyone at any time. He was a racer. A very nice guy." Sebastian Vettel on the news.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill