Dartford Grammar School

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Charlie Whiting (OD 63-68), Formula 1 Director, has died aged 66.

The motor racing world is today mourning Charlie Whiting (OD 1963-1968), who has died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism shortly after arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, at the age of 66. 

Whiting was born in 1952, and lived in West Kingsdown where he lived on a farm. His older brother Nick prepared and raced rally cars at Brands Hatch, and Charlie helped him from the age of 12: in time motorsport became Charlie's lifeblood.  He attended Dartford Grammar School from 1963 to 1968 and then went to Erith Technology College to study motor mechanics in order to finesse the skills he had picked up working with his brother after school and at weekends.

His innate strengths as a mechanic saw him quickly rise from his initial role with Hesketh to chief mechanic at Brabham under Bernie Ecclestone. He began a new career with the FIA in 1988 when he became their Formula 1 Technical Delegate, and later in 1997 he was appointed FIA Race Director and Safety Delegate. He later became the Permanent Starter at F1 races and the head of the Formula 1 Technical Department at the FIA.

 Press comment today shows the esteem in which Charlie was held. He was driven, charismatic, imaginative and faithful, and played a major part in making motorsport the safer sport that it has become today. The Telegraph hails him as a 'Giant of Sport'. 

“It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing,” FIA President Jean Todt said. “I have known him for many years and he has been a great Race Director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula 1 who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport... All my thoughts, those of the FIA and entire motor sport community go out to his family, friends, and all Formula 1 lovers.”

Tributes to him have started to come into school: Adam Kalinowski emailed us to inform us of the sad news and says 'He was a friend of mine in my class in the mid-60s and I still remember his sharp, good humour which got a few of us into trouble for laughing in morning assemblies. The school should be rightly proud of Charlie’s achievements, which I’m sure were very much due to the influence of the school on work ethic and character formation.'

Charlie leaves a wife and two children. Sadly, his brother Nick passed away in 1990, also tragically young.