Michael “Herbie” Blash, FIA Deputy Race Director, has announced he’ll step down from that post at the end of the year. He’ll still assist the FIA in other areas going forward.
The FIA announced the decision on Tuesday in a release.
Blash has enjoyed 50 years in Formula 1 dating to 1965, starting with Lotus privateer Rob Walker before moving to Lotus, then Brabham and Yamaha. He took on the FIA Deputy Race Director role in 1996 and has held it to this day.
Laurent Mekies will replace him in the post. He’s been the FIA Safety Director since 2014 and came from Scuderia Toro Rosso prior to that.
F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting said in the release, “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.”
“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,” FIA President Jean Todt added in the release. “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.”