The man who took over from Professor Sid Watkins as F1 doctor has apparently been told that his services will no longer be required beyond the end of the current season.
American Gary Hartstein, an associate professor of anesthesia and emergency medicine at University of Liège Hospital in Belgium first became involved in motorsport while working at Spa-Francorchamps in the late 1980s and, in 1990, was assigned to the F1 medical car, where he worked closely with Watkins. Seven years later, he was formally recruited by the FIA, before finally taking over the senior medical role when Watkins decided to step down in January 2005.
Since then, Hartstein has continued his predecessor's push for improved safety in the top flight, helping to develop new approaches to medical safety, whilst chairing the FIA Institute's Medical Training Working Group.
However, according to the latest entries on his Twitter feed, posted on the eve of the first USGP at the new Circuit of the Americas, Hartstein claims that his F1 contract has not been extended for 2013 and beyond.
“Have just been informed that president of the FIA and president of FIA medical commission have decided not to renew my F1 contract,” he wrote, “Not sure about the 'whys' of the decision, but not down to me to know. Brazil will therefore be my 247th and last F1 grand prix.”
Whilst obviously tinged with regret, Hartstein's subsequent messages admitted that, without F1 in his life, he would have chance to pursue other interests.
“It's been a life-changing experience and something I'll never forget,” he conceded, “[There is a] long list of stuff in my life that's been ignored or not done coz [sic
] of F1. Like vacations, learning to fly, waking up at home every weekend…..
“If I've brought even a small bit to this sport of what it's brought to me in personal fulfilment then it was worth it. Time to start banging away at that list….”