MELBOURNE: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel expressed shock on Thursday (Mar 14) as the sudden death of long-standing race director Charlie Whiting plunged Formula One into mourning on the eve of the new season.
"I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great race director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport," he said.
The popular Whiting began his F1 career in 1977 working at the Hesketh team, then in the 1980s at Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham, where he was chief mechanic during the world title successes of Nelson Piquet in 1981 and 1983.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, said he saw Whiting on Wednesday and walked the first few corners of the Albert Park track with him.
Red Bull chief Christian Horner said Whiting's death would leave "a huge void in our sport".