Singapore GP official Janette Tan conferred Charlie Whiting Award
Receiving Charlie Whiting Award is Tan's career pinnacle
For Janette Tan, winning an award named after her late mentor and father figure was especially poignant.
The 41-year-old, who is Singapore Grand Prix's deputy clerk of the course and senior manager for race operations, described being conferred the inaugural Charlie Whiting Award in Geneva, Switzerland, last week as the "pinnacle" of her career.
The accolade, which was handed out by Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), world motorsports' governing body, earmarks Tan as a potential race director, a role Whiting held in Formula One until his sudden passing last March.
Whiting was regarded as one of the most influential figures in F1 and a central figure in promoting driver safety in the sport.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff called him the "guardian of the sport's best interests" and he was hailed by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as "our man, the drivers' man".
Like the drivers, Tan knew Whiting well.
The engineer by training told The New Paper: "I have known Charlie for more than a decade. We'd see each other very often at FIA meetings, seminars and things like that.
"He's always been like a mentor to me... In the latter years of the Singapore GP, he became somewhat like a father figure to me because we talked about many topics outside motorsports, from our families, kids and our daily lives.
"So his passing last year came as a shock. It wasn't easy to cope with losing him. So I studied very hard for this award, because there were a few tests I needed to do...
"When I received this award in his name, I was actually very happy because it really means a lot to me.
"With this award, I hope that I can make Charlie proud and fly the Singapore flag high on the international stage...
"When they called my name, I was actually very surprised. I had tears in my eyes when I was receiving the award because it was Charlie's two children who presented it to me and his family were all there."
For Tan, who was enthralled by the on-track battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost as a teenager and started volunteering at local motorsports events in her 20s, the Charlie Whiting Award represents the height of her career.
She said: "There have been many highs in my career in the motorsports industry... but I would say this is a new high.
"To be recognised on the international level is definitely something I never expected or dreamed of."
The award comes with a training and mentoring stint by the FIA during the upcoming season, in view of grooming her to be a potential race director.
But Tan was coy about the prospect of emulating Whiting, saying: "I'm happy to be recognised by the FIA on an international level, but I'm happy with what I'm doing now - being with the volunteers... But you never know what the future holds."
For now, Tan's job entails overseeing the annual recruitment and training of more than 900 volunteer race officials - including her husband Gabriel - for the Singapore GP and liaising with Whiting's successor Michael Masi during the Republic's iconic night race.
But if Tan continues her current career trajectory, she could someday be the official race starter at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.