Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes the sport will struggle to replace Charlie Whiting, a man who juggled with an equal talent several acts in F1.

Whiting passed away in Melbourne early Thursday morning from a pulmonary embolism, on the eve of the opening round of the 2019 season.

The 66-year-old FIA race director had started his career in motor racing as a simple mechanic, rising through the ranks and hired by Ecclestone to work for his Brabham outfit in the 80s.

“It’s a big, big, big loss to Formula One. He kept things on the road and kept the FIA pretty well straight because he’d look after the rules and everything else,” Ecclestone told Reuters.

“People talk about him as a race director but it was a small part of all the things he did. A talented guy who loved doing what he wanted to do.”

Indeed, Whiting was so much more than the man who pressed the green button on race day. He oversaw the sport’s safety concerns and also made sure that the rule book was adhered to, drawing on his vast experience and engineering knowledge.

Having worked on both sides of the barrier, he knew every trick in the book and circumventing a technicality or regulation with Whiting lurking in the wings was a near-impossible challenge.

“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,” added Ecclestone.

Whiting likely turned off the lights in his hotel room on Wednesday evening with the thrill of embarking on a new season on his mind.

“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.

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