Herbie Blash will step down as the FIA's deputy F1 race director at the end of the season after two decades in the role.
Having first started work in F1 alongside Lotus privateer Rob Walker in 1965, Blash became Jochen Rindt's race engineer at Lotus before moving to Brabham where he became team manager. After spells as sporting director at Brabham and Yamaha, Blash became FIA deputy F1 race director in 1996 and has held the role ever since.
Blash will be replaced by Laurent Mekies at the end of the season, and FIA President Jean Todt praised Blash for his work alongside race director Charlie Whiting.
“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," Todt said. "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 also paid tribute to Blash having worked alongside him as the FIA's race director since 1997.
“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport," Whiting said. "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."