Along with Herbie Blash, the deputy race director who stepped down from his role with the FIA at the end of 2016, Charlie Whiting was one of the old guard, forever linked with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, for whom they had both worked when he owned Brabham.
88-year-old Ecclestone received news of his friend’s death late last night in a phone call from FIA president, Jean Todt.
“It’s a big, big, big loss to Formula One,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “He kept things on the road and kept the FIA pretty well straight because he’d look after the rules and everything else.
“People talk about him as a race director but that was a small part of all the things he did,” he added. “(He was) a talented guy who loved doing what he wanted to do.
“Two or three of the top, top teams tried to get him to be their team manager but he thought he could do a lot better for everyone doing what he did.”
“He did it as a one-man job. It’s finding this person who can do what Charlie did. If you’ve got three or four people doing what he did, it just doesn’t work.
“Nobody really knew what Charlie was or what he did. He did so many things, and nobody really knew and they’d be surprised if they knew the things he did do.”
In concluding Ecclestone admitted that he took some comfort from the fact his friend went quietly in his sleep and didn’t feel any pain.
“He went to bed and didn’t get up in the morning. Which is as good as it gets if you’ve got to leave us,” he said. “When I have to go I hope I go the same way.”