The world of Formula One has continued to pay tribute to race director Charlie Whiting who died ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Whiting, 66, was due to officiate at the season opener in Melbourne’s Albert Park this weekend but suddenly died on the eve of Friday’s practice sessions.
The death of the highly revered Whiting has cast a shadow over the season-opening Grand Prix, with many teams carrying messages thanking the former Brabham chief mechanic for his work.
The Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean carry a message saying, “For our friend Charlie 1952-2019”, while Racing Point have “Thank you Charlie” written on their nose.
The McLaren cars of Briton Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz also have a “Thank you Charlie” on their nose, with the Alfa Romeo, Williams and Toro Rosso teams carrying similar messages.
Team principals were among those expressing their grief at the news, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff saying Whiting was an “unbelievable person”.
He said: “It was a total shock when we received the news.
“If you are in that position over so many years and you still don’t make a lot of enemies, it shows your character.”
“There is a huge hole at the moment that needs to be filled. The person, Charlie, who strolls in for a coffee and was just a decent man.”
His opposite number at Red Bull Christian Horner said: “Charlie was one of the good guys.
“He knew all the tricks in the book and that made him the ideal guy to become poacher-turned-gamekeeper when he took on the role within the FIA.
“He handled that role, a tremendously difficult role, with great balance and diplomacy in some incredibly difficult situations.
“He was one of those guys who went under the radar but what he contributed was enormous, from a safety point of view, from what the sport is today.”
Whiting’s entry into Formula One came as part of the Hesketh Racing team in 1977, but it was through his work at Brabham that he made his name.
As chief mechanic for the outfit owned by Bernie Ecclestone, he played an integral role in the championships won by Nelson Piquet in 1981 and 1983.
After leaving Brabham in 1988, Whiting moved on to serve as FIA technical delegate and then became FIA director and safety delegate from 1997.
Within this role, he was responsible for starting races as well as being the man teams would speak to about a variety of matters over the race weekend.
Australian Michael Masi has been announced as the race director, safety delegate and starter for the race which gets under way at 4pm (5am GMT) on Sunday.