F1 mourns death of race director

Respected figure Whiting talking to Vettel in Melbourne this week

FIA president Jean Todt did not elaborate on details beyond this weekend, only saying plans were being drawn up.

Vettel said: "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".

Known simply as Charlie, Whiting was the go-to man for teams, drivers and media who respected his authority that came with approachability and an easy sense of humour. "What he did for this sport and his commitment, he really was a pillar. He was someone you could ask anything of, any time". My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

"He was a racer - just a very nice guy".

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. He was always ears open. "Formula One has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie". It is hard to grasp when someone is just not there any more.

F1 MD Ross Brawn said he was "devastated" at the news, after knowing Whiting all his racing life.

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A brilliant mechanic, working for Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team in its heyday in the '80s, playing a crucial role in Nelson Piquet's world championship successes of '81 and '83, he joined the FIA in '88 and, over the past 31 years, has developed, built, managed and perfected the governing body's technical operation to make it the paragon of optimal safety and smooth operation it is today. We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world.

"It is a great loss not only for me personally, but also the entire F1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole".

If approved by the Strategy Group, the rules will be voted on by the FIA's Formula One commission, which includes all the teams.

A giant of the sport behind the scenes, he was best known to fans as the finger on the button of the complex start sequence at every grand prix since 1997.

"Actually I have had a number - more on the teams side than the engines side - of potential new entrants that expressed interest and enthusiasm if we provide a structure that they think enables it to be something that they could enter more constructively".

He began his sojourn with F1 back in 1977 with the Hesketh team before shifting to Brabham for 1978.

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