Herbie Blash to step down as Deputy Race Director

After 20 years as FIA Deputy Race Director, Herbie Blash is set to retire from the role at the end of the season.

Herbie Blash to step down as Deputy Race Director
Charlie Whiting and Herbie Blash have been responsible for the safe running of Grand Prix since 1997. (Image Credit: Motorsport.com)

Herbie Blash ​is to stand down as FIA Deputy Race Director at the end of the season, the organisation has announced.

Having held the position since 1996, Blash's 50 year asscioation with Formula One  will draw to a close after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ​in November.

Before he took on the position, working alongside Race Director Charlie Whiting, Blash's career began in 1965 as a 17-year-old mechanic working on the privateer Rob Walkers of ​Jo Bonnier and ​Jo Siffert. ​​​​​

Just a year later he moved to Lotus ​to work alongside ​Colin Chapman and Graham Hill​, helping the Briton to win his second world title that year, in the aftermath of the death of the great ​Jim Clark.

Two years later, still at Lotus, he was ​Jochen Rindt's ​race engineer that saw the Austrian become the only posthumous world champion in the sports history.

Stints at ​Brabham, working with Whiting and a certain ​B Ecclestone, he evantually rose to be sporting director after a period spent as team manager.

Mekies chosen as Blash's replacement

Before he joined the FIA, he worked on Yamaha's F1 project which supplied engines to the Jordan and ​Tyrrell ​​teams in the mid-1990's. ​​

FIA President ​Jean Todt​ paid tribute to Blash's contribution "​in maintaining Formula One's place as the pinnacle of motorsport"​, by saying: ​"I would personally like to thank Herbie for all of his hard-work for the FIA over the last 21 years."​ 

Close friend Whiting added: ​"It has been a huge pleasure to be alongside him for almost two decades", adding his "​sincerest thanks for his years of tireless work for our sport."

​Blash will be replaced as Deputy Race Director by current FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies,​ who will hold both posts simultaneously. The Frenchman has, according to Whiting, "​extensive experience in F1", with a CV that includes times spent at ​Minardi and the team born out it when ​Dietrich Mateschitz ​purschased at the end of 2005, Toro Rosso.

​Blash has had reportedly attended the most Grand Prix of any person, an estimated 750, although the actual figure is unclear will be replaced by a man, who according to Whiting will "​be able to bring a new dimension of experience" ​to the FIA team resonsible for the running and safety of Grand Prix.