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Jonathan Palmer pays tribute to Charlie Whiting

Thursday, March 14 2019

Like everyone, I was absolutely shocked to learn of Charlie Whiting's death this morning.  Our paths had crossed for most of the past 35 years, and we always got on very well - but then everyone did with Charlie, he was always pleasant and calm, yet hugely knowledgeable and sharp behind the easy-going nature. 

Charlie had been a friend since I began F1 racing in 1984, when he was at Brabham and I was at RAM.  We developed a great relationship as I continued to race in F1, whilst Charlie later moved to join the FIA.  In my days as BBC commentator, Charlie was always a good source of sound opinion, particularly on the inevitably media-focussed issues of teams rule-bending, accidents and safety.  Then through seven years of Jolyon racing in GP2 and F1, Charlie was not just the starter for all his races, but the sage mind behind race control and all things technical and indeed driving standards.

With our MSV F2 and now British F3 championships, Charlie had always been someone I would talk to on FIA related matters for advice.  He also understood and cared about all levels of single-seater racing, believed in fairness whether sporting, technical or commercial, and would always give me sound views and support anything Charlie thought was right, such as our British F3 championship and its future.

Brands Hatch was Charlie Whiting's home circuit.  He grew up there and indeed his brother Nick was a personal hero of mine watching Brands Hatch club racing, against rival Gerry Marshall, with his yellow Ford Escort with branding from his West Kingsdown All Car Equipe motor accessory business.  Charlie was an occasional visitor to Brands Hatch and always thought very fondly of it.

Saying he will be missed is a massive understatement.  No-one can come near Charlie's vast experience, knowledge and care for motorsport, ability to calmly do his job so professionally, yet be respected and genuinely liked by so many people in motorsport from the biggest names to youngest mechanics.  A quite remarkable man who made an enormous contribution to Formula 1.

Jonathan Palmer