Ex-Force India Formula 1 deputy team boss Bob Fernley will replace incoming F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali as FIA Single Seater Commission president.
Fernley spent a decade at Force India after being drafted into the team following Vijay Mallya’s purchase of the Spyker operation.
With Mallya’s presence at races limited, Fernley was the most senior public-facing figure for the team, but he left after it went into administration in the summer of 2018 and it transformed into Racing Point, with its assets being purchased by Lawrence Stroll’s consortium.
Fernley, who had experience working in the United States well before his time in F1, then had a short-lived stint as the person in charge of McLaren’s IndyCar programme that failed to qualify Fernando Alonso in the 2019 Indy 500.
The FIA commissions develop proposals for regulations in various series.
Its single-seater variant, which Fernley will lead, is responsible for assessing elements such as safety recommendations, the superlicence criteria and the junior single-seater ladder.
Reorganising F1’s feeder series has been a high-profile job in recent years. Gerhard Berger introduced the Formula 4 concept, while official Formula 2 and Formula 3 categories have since been rebranded/created on the F1 support package later under Domenicali’s watch.
Fernley is assuming the presidency as Domenicali is replacing outgoing F1 CEO Chase Carey from the start of 2021.
Last month Fernley teamed up with Mallya again, as well as former Williams sponsor Jonathan Kendrick, to fund the £150,000 cost of putting three students from disadvantaged backgrounds through a three-year course at Bolton’s National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME).
Fernley also loaned two F1 cars and an Indycar to the university, saying he hoped that when students walk past them it “makes them think that one day they could be working with such fabulous machinery”.
Another major presidency change within the FIA commissions is the news that Gerard Saillant (pictured above) will step down from his role as president of the FIA Medical Commission.
Saillant will continue as an advisor to the commission. Among other responsibilities he co-ordinated the COVID-19 protocols that enabled the F1 season to begin during the coronavirus pandemic and created the framework for other championships to follow.
He will be succeeded by current deputy Dino Altmann of Brazil. Ian Roberts, F1 medical delegate and the man who helped Romain Grosjean escape the flames in his Bahrain GP crash this year, will become the new vice-president of the commission.