F1 Race Director Dies Ahead of New Season

March 14, 2019 at 5:07 PM

Long-time Formula One official Charlie Whiting suffered a pulmonary embolism and died Thursday in Melbourne at the age of 66, three days ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Serving as the sport’s race director for more than two decades, Whiting was responsible for developing and enforcing various safety and technical regulations. He is credited with introducing the headrest, safety survival cell, and front and side impact structures on F1 cars.

The England-born Whiting said he watched his first race, the 1964 British Grand Prix, by sneaking through a surrounding fence when he was 12. He became an F1 mechanic in 1977. He later joined Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team, where he eventually served as chief mechanic.

In 1988, Whiting was named technical delegate to F1’s governing body. Nine years later he was appointed FIA director and safety delegate, serving as the lead official at every F1 race.

Described as a “charismatic ambassador" for the sport, Whiting was well-liked by drivers, team owners and other F1 officials.