Charaf-Eddin Ait-Tales, is known by many in motorsport as a Formula One superfan due to having had over 50 visits to Grand Prix events. A feat all the more remarkable due to the fact that Charaf-Eddin Ait-Tales is blind. This past week, the news was broken by his family, that Charaf had passed away following his battle with cancer. F1 icons have paid tribute to him and it was a privilege to hang out with Charaf for three days at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix. Today we pay tribute to a young Frenchman who had an infectious smile, immeasurable level of knowledge and extreme passion for Formula One.
Charaf Ait-Tales became well known to the F1 community of fans following a superb feature presented by Will Buxton which made the young Frenchman’s dream come true. Charaf was surprised on camera with the news that he would be riding in the back of a two-seater around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (YouTube it!).
Towards the end of last year, Charaf announced on his Twitter page that he was battling aggressive cancer and the sporting community fundraised and did all they could to help this inspiring young man. Sadly, Charaf passed away on March 13th of this year and what has followed is a host of tributes to an F1 superfan and a friend to so many in Formula One.
One such tribute came from 2016 Drivers’ World Champion Nico Rosberg:
‘One of the most passionate fans of our sport I ever met! @charafeddinF1 you will be so missed! I watched the YT piece of you getting a ride in the 2-seater @f1 car. It made me so happy to see your joy. Another reminder of the importance to enjoy the moment & special experiences.’
This tribute from Nico Rosberg was posted alongside a video of Charaf taking pleasure joking with Rosberg. Will Buxton, the man whose video segment with Charaf went viral, retweeted it along with the comment ‘Really beautiful video of Charaf. So at ease absolutely rinsing a world champion and both of them loving it. That joy was infectious. He was funny, passionate, sincere and brave. A lesson for us all in who we could be.’
Will Buxton posted several comments paying tribute to the 38-year old Frenchman stating:
‘I’m utterly cut up and so desperately sad to hear the news of the passing of our dear sweet, passionate, wonderful friend Charaf. One of life’s truly genuine people and the most beautiful soul. Everyone loved him. I’ll miss him awfully.’
Daniel Ricciardo also paid tribute to the Formula One superfan by posting a picture of himself alongside Charaf from his days with Red Bull Racing. The pair are smiling whilst looking at the camera and the image further cements how long Charaf has been known to those in the paddock. To accompany this photo, which was posted on his Instagram Story, the much-loved Aussie included the comment:
‘Charaf sadly passed over the weekend. A kind, extremely funny soul who got dealt some sh##ty cards through his life but never let it bring him down. He taught me about perspective. Thank you for being a bright light Charaf.’
Charaf’s brother had previously posted on Twitter, using his brother’s account:
‘If you have some pictures of my brother, I would be grateful if you can DM me on Instagram (supreme_dad) page as this Twitter account will be deleted. It hurts me too much to connect to it. Thanks for your understanding.’
There are a couple of accounts on Instagram with this name but the correct one to access is identifiable due to being followed by Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque racer was a good friend to Charaf and amongst many of their adventures, they enjoyed celebrating Leclerc’s Singapore GP pole position together on the Saturday night back in 2019.
Paying tribute to his dear friend, Charles Leclerc wrote on his Twitter page:
‘Charaf was such an amazing person. You always had a huge smile on your face every time we spoke together. Always so positive and always using the right words whenever I was feeling down. I’ll miss you, and the whole paddock will miss you. Rest in Peace my friend.’
When Charaf spoke with Motorlat in 2019 at the Singapore GP, he recounted how he experiences Grand Prix events and the thrill he gets:
‘’I have no favourite engine, I know where the cars are on the track by listening, I know where they all are. I tell Charles [Leclerc] yesterday, when we stay on board with one driver for the race I was involved with Charles. For the last ten laps, I can hear at the exit of the first chicane at turn 2, when he push on the throttle, I can hear that he has so much wheelspin, that his hard tyre is starting to deg [degrade]. So it was more and more hard to listen at the exit of the second chicane when he go on the kerb, as I was scared two or three times.”
Charaf-Eddin Ait-Tales was the very epitome of an F1 superfan - and so much more. At a time when Murray Walker’s passing saw us pay tribute to the voice of Formula One, the loss of Charaf reminds us of a great person who loved the sound of Formula One.
Rest in peace Charaf – merci.