It was confirmed on Thursday morning that Charlie Whiting suffered a pulmonary embolism, just three days before the first grand prix of 2019 will get underway in Melbourne.
Whiting was responsible for safety and rules in the sport, as well as being the official race starter.
Whiting's passing of 'immense sadness'
FIA President Jean Todt said: “It is with immense sadness that I learned of Charlie’s sudden passing. I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great Race Director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport.
"Formula 1 has lost a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador in Charlie. All my thoughts, those of the FIA and entire motor sport community go out to his family, friends, and all Formula 1 lovers.”
Whiting began his Formula 1 career in 1977 working for Hesketh, before joining Brabham in the 80s.
In 1988 he joined the FIA Formula 1 World Championship Federation, before becoming racing director in 1997.
“I have known Charlie for all of my racing life,” said Ross Brawn, Managing Director of F1. “We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world.
"I was filled with immense sadness when I heard the tragic news. I’m devastated. It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.”
Drivers pay tribute to Whiting
Drivers also paid tribute to Whiting, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who are expected to lock horns for the championship this season.
Vettel said: “I was as shocked as we all are, still now, when I heard the news this morning, especially because I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him.
"It’s difficult to grasp when somebody’s just not there anymore.
“I’ve known him for a long time and he was sort of our man, our drivers’ man. Obviously there’s regulations and all that and then there’s us and he was the middle man."
The Ferrari driver also added that Whiting was "a very nice guy" whose door "was always open".
He said: “The whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula 1, all our thoughts are with him and especially his family in these difficult circumstances.”
Hamilton added: “I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007… Obviously incredibly shocked this morning to hear the sad news.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family. What he did for the sport, his commitment, he really was a pillar… Such an iconic figure within the sporting world, and he contributed so much to us. May he rest in peace.”