The Formula 1 paddock is rarely united. It became exactly that during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, bonded through sadness and disbelief after long-serving FIA race director Charlie Whiting's sudden death. The tributes that flowed and the sadness that prevailed during the opening weekend of the new season were a measure of the respect and admiration the 66-year-old had earned among drivers, teams and various personnel.
Plenty has been said and written about the qualities of the irreplaceable Whiting, and the impact his death will have on F1. However, Whiting's true impact is best illustrated by the scope of his dedication and expertise, and that extended well beyond F1 races.
As race director, safety delegate and permanent starter, he was the go-to man for teams and drivers during a grand prix weekend, chairing the drivers' briefing and team managers' meeting, inspecting the circuit, running race control, controlling the start, and doing just about everything you could imagine in terms of managing practice, qualifying and the race. But he was so much more to F1 and the wider motorsport world.