It was announced yesterday that Herbie Blash will step down as the FIA’s deputy race director at the end of the current season after two decades in the role.
Blash’s tenure in F1 started in 1965, working with privateer Lotus entrant Rob Walker, before becoming race engineer to Jochen Rindt three years later. He was team manager at Brabham between 1972 and 1988.
After spells as sporting director at Brabham and Yamaha, Blash became FIA deputy race director, a role he has held ever since. At the end of the season he will replaced by Laurent Mekies, who joined the FIA as safety director in 2014.
In a statement to the media yesterday, FIA president Jean Todt paid tribute to Blash, saying the following:-
‘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 [race director] Charlie [Whiting], 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.’
In his own statement to the media yesterday, Charlie Whiting said the following about Blash’s contribution to the sport as follows:-
‘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.’