Charlie Whiting, who was the Race Director for FIA Formula 1, has passed away at the age of 66.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has been closely associated with Whiting since starting out in F1 in 2007, told BBC Sport he was "incredibly shocked to hear the sad news".
Formula One was rocked today by the news that on the eve of the season opener in Melbourne, Charlie Whiting, the sport's race director, official starter and the overseer of most of the sport's rules, had passed away. "It's hard to grasp when somebody is just not there any more".
Whiting had a long career in motor sport. Even if he once memorably clashed with Sebastian Vettel - who berated him angrily over his in-car radio in Mexico in 2016 - he wore his knowledge lightly, endearing himself to drivers through his unaffected manner. Obviously there are the regulations, then there's us, and he was the middle man, he was someone you could ask anything at any time. His door was always open.
"He was a racer, just a very nice guy. All our thoughts, the whole family of Formula One, are with him".More news: Klopp delighted to put Liverpool back on the map
As reported by Skysports.com, the FIA released a statement on Thursday to confirm the tragic news.
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the lung, usually caused by a blood clot.
He joined the Hesketh F1 team in 1977 before joining Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham, where he remained for a decade and was chief mechanic and later chief engineer when Nelson Piquet won his titles with the team in 1981 and 1983.
FIA president Jean Todt says Formula One has lost "a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador".
Across the paddock F1 paid tribute to Whiting, who was integral to the sport for so long.More news: Right Struff: Ailing Zverev toppled, Djokovic rained out at Indian Wells
Formula One's motorsport boss, Ross Brawn, added: "I have known Charlie for all of my racing life". I remember my first Aussie GP in 2012, going up with Franz [Tost], he said go and introduce yourself to Charlie, start of a new season, go and start the relationship on a good note. "We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world", he said. "It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family".
"I am deeply saddened to hear the bad news that Charlie Whiting passed away last night".
"He was a man with great integrity who performed a hard role in a balanced way", he said.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto praised Whiting's diplomatic presence in the high-speed sport.
"Charlie did so much for this sport and helping push on so many areas for the drivers and their safety". "A tireless and enlightened motorsport expert, he helped make F1 safer and better".More news: Horner: Red Bull still way off competing with Mercedes and Ferrari