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Blash to step down as deputy F1 race director

05 Jul 2016

Herbie Blash is to leave his position of FIA deputy race director for Formula One at the end of the season - a job he has held since 1996.

The role will be taken on by Laurent Mekies, who joined the FIA as safety director in 2014 and had previously worked as an engineer for Arrows, Minardi and Toro Rosso.

Mekies will continue to hold the post of safety director, but will now also work alongside F1 race director Charlie Whiting at all Formula One races.

FIA president Jean Todt said: “I would personally like to thank Herbie for all of his hard work for the FIA over the past 21 years, and especially for his contribution in maintaining Formula One’s place at the pinnacle of motor sport. Along with Charlie, Herbie has been instrumental in the seamless running of grand prix races for over two decades, and we are pleased that he will continue to work with the FIA in future.

“Replacing someone with Herbie’s immense experience was never going to be easy. However, we are fortunate to be able to appoint Laurent Mekies to this position. Laurent brings a wealth of Formula One experience, and has been responsible for driving the FIA’s safety agenda since joining us.

"Combining his strong Formula One history and work as the FIA’s safety director, I am confident that he will ensure that the FIA’s flagship single-seater championship continues to set the benchmark for race management and safety – a status that his predecessor, Herbie, can take great pride in helping to nurture.”

Whiting added: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport. It has been a huge pleasure to be alongside him for almost two decades. Of course Herbie will be hard to replace but, with Laurent’s extensive experience in F1, I’m sure he will be a worthy replacement, he will also be able to bring a new dimension of experience to our team of F1 officials.”

A 50-year veteran of F1, Michael ‘Herbie’ Blash began his Grand Prix career in 1965 working with privateer Lotus entrant Rob Walker. In 1968 he was employed by Lotus where he became race engineer to Jochen Rindt. In 1972 he moved to Brabham where he became team manager, a post he would hold until 1988.

Following a period as sporting director with Brabham in the early ‘90s he then moved to Yamaha in the same role, before he began work as deputy race director at the FIA in 1996.