Charlie Whiting, the British motor sport official best known for his role as Formula One race director, has died aged 66, on the eve of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix at which he had been due to officiate.
Growing up in the shadow of Brands Hatch, Whiting studied mechanical engineering, initially working as a mechanic for his brother Nick as he competed in club motor sport, before the pair went into business, preparing Divina Galica’s Formula 5000 Surtees. Whiting was hired as a mechanic by Hesketh in 1977 – his first job in Formula One – and with the team’s demise the following year, joined Bernie Ecclestone at Brabham. Whiting soon became Nelson Piquet’s chief mechanic, where he oversaw the Brazilian’s first two World Driver’s Championships, before being promoted to be Brabham’s chief engineer.
In 1988, Whiting joined the FIA as chief scrutineer, citing his experience helping to engineer the infamous Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ as instrumental in knowing how to spot rule-benders. He ascended to the position of F1 race director in 1997, and also took it upon himself to chair the sport’s various working groups, guiding rules to balance safety, racecraft and technological advancement.