Article Written by: Daniel Mills

The FIA is facing the struggle of finding a new F1 deputy race director just a week before the season opener Australian GP weekend kicks off, after the announcement of the departure of Laurent Mekies.

Mekies has been forced to stand down from F1 duties following the announcement of his departure to Ferrari, with his predecessor Herbie Blash, who was thought to be the most obvious candidate, has other commitments on the Melbourne weekend. Mekies took over the job from Blash last year.

The deputy race director's roles include: being in charge of race control for the grid, formation lap, start and the first few laps of a race, while race director Charlie Whiting is occupied with other responsibilities such as: starting the grand prix from the pit wall and then making his way back.
This role includes responbilitys extends to making calls on red flags and safety cars.
Mekies had to undergo a period of training, alongside his other duties as the FIA safety delegate, before he took the race weekend role. There are few obvious candidates within the FIA who are fully qualified and in a position to take the role full time with immediate effect.

Blash left the job at the end of 2016 after a 20-year stint, however  has remained his involvment with motorsport, mainly with the Porsche Supercup and a management role with Yamaha.
He will be executing his Yamaha duties at the World Superbike round in Thailand on the Australian GP weekend.
However, it's believed that he could be possibly available for subsequent races, if asked.
An alternative option could be to second an experienced race director or deputy from another FIA series, for a temporary basis.