LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One's deputy race director Michael 'Herbie' Blash, who has been part of the sport for 50 years and managed the Brabham team run by Bernie Ecclestone in the 1970s, is to step down at the end of the season.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the 67-year-old would be replaced by Frenchman Laurent Mekies who will also continue as FIA safety director.

Blash and race director Charlie Whiting, who also worked at Brabham in the 1970s with the sport's now commercial supremo Ecclestone, have been an important double act in Formula One since the 1990s.

The former first entered the sport in 1965 as a 17-year-old mechanic with the Rob Walker team and then moved to Lotus where he worked with double champion Graham Hill and Austria's posthumous 1970 champion Jochen Rindt.


He took up his FIA role in 1996.

"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," said FIA president Jean Todt in a statement.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Jimenez)

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