The first Drivers' Press Conference of the 2019 Formula One season started with a solemn tone following the news of the FIA Director of Formula One Charlie Whiting passing away. Each driver present would go on to recall their memories of the man known as the driver’s racer.
Lewis Hamilton was the first driver given the opportunity to pay tribute to a man who had such an impact on the sport - Charlie Whiting.
‘I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007 and I left some comments on Instagram' Lewis told the press in attendance. 'I am incredibly shocked to hear the sad news my thoughts are with. What he did for this sport and his commitment, he really was a pillar He was a pillar and icon and contributed so much to us…May he rest in peace.’
For Sebastian Vettel
‘It is difficult to grasp when somebody is not there anymore’ Vettel would then remark how ‘He’s been sort of our man, the driver’s man.’
Robert Kubica would recall how he too saw Charlie Whiting on the track with Vettel but did not interrupt as he thought he would see him the next day:
‘It’s very sad he was a kind of icon of Formula One but not only Formula One…he was a racer, he was the kind of person you could always trust.’
The penultimate driver to comment was a profound Max Verstappen as he had remarked that he had been with Charlie on a trip in Geneva and told him he would see him in Australia...but that was not to be: 'Appreciate every morning you wake up...enjoy life, it is not just about Formula 1.' Verstappen told a room full of journalists and photographers busily scribbling notes, recording comments and taking photos.
Finally, He was there for us and we gave him a hard time. We would really press him and push him and make him work and he was always receptive and he was on our side...we'll have some very nice and positive memories of him.'
Those final words echo the many said throughout the Paddock on this beautiful summer's day and they will surely continue to be said for many a year to come.
Charlie Whiting, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten.
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