Michael 'Herbie' Blash will step down from his role as F1's deputy race director after 21 years and will be replaced by Laurent Mekies at the end of the season.
The British veteran has been involved with F1 for over five decades having begun by working for privateer Lotus entry Rob Walker in 1965. After acting as race engineer for Jochen Rindt at Lotus he moved to Brabham in 1972 as team manager for 16 years before stepping up as sporting director in the early 1990s.
After a brief stint as sporting director with Yamaha, Blash was appointed FIA deputy race director in F1 in 1996, a role he has fulfilled for over 20 years and become an integral part to the inner circle of the race organisation alongside race director Charlie Whiting.
Mekies, who previously worked for Arrows and Minardi before the rebranding to Toro Rosso, will replace Blash at the end of the season while conting in his role as safety director in the FIA.
FIA president Jean Todt has thanked Blash for his work and commitment to F1 over the past 21 years and has confirmed the 67-year-old will continue to work with the FIA in some form in the future.
“Replacing someone with Herbie's immense experience was never going to be easy,” Todt said. “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.”
“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport,” Whiting added. “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.”