MELBOURNE (AFP) - formula One’s long-serving and extensively reputable race director Charlie Whiting died all at once in Melbourne Thursday, leaving a "large void in the sport" just days before the opening Grand Prix of the season.

The sixty six-yr-old Briton, who had been at the helm on the grounds that 1997 and turned into in charge of the whole lot guidelines-associated inside the pretty technical game, suffered a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot.

"it's miles with massive disappointment that I learned of Charlie’s surprising passing," FIA president Jean Todt said in a declaration.

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"i've regarded Charlie Whiting for decades and he has been a superb race director, a primary and inimitable parent in formulation one that embodied the ethics and spirit of this super game," he said.

"formulation 1 has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie," he delivered.

Whiting, a famous and pivotal discern in the game, began his F1 profession in 1977 working at the Hesketh group, then within the 1980s at Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham, where he became leader mechanic at some stage in the sector title successes of Nelson Piquet in 1981 and 1983.

He rose to chief engineer before becoming an critical a part of organising the arena championship after becoming a member of the Federation Internationale de l’car in 1988.

His large function included overseeing track and car protection, procedural topics on Grand Prix weekends and beginning the race itself.

Whiting died only a day earlier than he was scheduled to officiate at the first exercise session of the season at Albert Park in Melbourne. It became not clean who might update him.

throughout his profession, Whiting was a driving pressure in pushing improved safety and performed a key position inside the creation of the halo, the hoop-like barrier outfitted over drivers’ heads as safety.

‘likely irreplaceable’

method one managing director Ross Brawn stated he changed into "devastated" on the news, after understanding Whiting all his racing lifestyles.

"We labored as mechanics together, have become buddies and spent so much time collectively at race tracks the world over. I was full of significant unhappiness once I heard the tragic information. I’m devastated," he stated.

"it's far a fantastic loss no longer most effective for me in my opinion but additionally the complete method 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as an entire."

crimson Bull chief Christian Horner said Whiting’s death would depart "a big void in our recreation".

"He became a man with extremely good integrity who carried out a tough role in a balanced manner," he said.

"At coronary heart, he become a racer along with his origins stretching returned to his time at Hesketh and the early days of Brabham."

The Haas crew stated the "complete motorsport network is in mourning", while Renault called him "one of the pillars and leaders of the sport".

"His drive to make sure exciting, safe and fair racing was unprecedented and his ardour may be sorely neglected," Renault stated.

Racing notable Mario Andretti stated the information of Whiting’s demise became "completely shocking".

"Charlie became a true large in our game and very probably irreplaceable. RIP my pal," he stated.