Charlie Whiting has died in Melbourne.
The long-serving FIA race director and official starter passed away in his Melbourne hotel room on Wednesday, just days before the 2019 season opener.
The FIA and Liberty Media confirmed that he died of a pulmonary embolism.
"I'm devastated," said Ross Brawn, Liberty's sporting boss.
Whiting, who was 66, started his life in the paddock in 1977 with the Hesketh team. He went on to join Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team and became the FIA safety delegate in 1988.
Auto Motor und Sport said Whiting's duties in Melbourne are likely to be taken over in the short term by deputy race director Scot Elkins.
"I spoke to him (Whiting) yesterday and walked the first couple of corners of the track with him," said Sebastian Vettel on Thursday.
"It's difficult to grasp. He was the drivers' man. He was open to everyone at any time. He was a racer and a very nice guy," the Ferrari driver added.body check tags ::