Renault has confirmed that it has hired former FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski as its new Executive Director, prompting outrage from rival F1 teams.
Budkowski resigned from his post at the FIA ahead of last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, with the governing body confirming that he would serve three months’ ‘gardening leave’, the maximum permitted under Swiss labour laws.
Budkowski was privy to highly sensitive information and insider knowledge in his previous role, including team and engine data and development ideas.
Rival outfits are justifiably unhappy that he could be appointed to Renault so soon, with team principals representing F1’s Strategy Group – Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, Williams, Mercedes, McLaren and Force India – holding a hastily-convened meeting at the Malaysian Grand Prix before writing to FIA president Jean Todt and F1 chairman Chase Carey to voice their concerns.
Having previously described Budkowski’s hiring as “entirely inappropriate”, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner warned that there would be consequences if next year’s Renault sported features of other teams’ car designs.
“I don’t think there’s any real issue with Marcin but the issue is the notice period. He’s been privy to everybody’s secrets, everybody’s designs for next year. I think it could be a big issue for Renault if a team finds one of their components on that car,” he told SKY F1 at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
“Personally I think it’s incorrect that a person of that seniority within the FIA should be allowed to be in another working environment within a three-month period.
“I’m sure it will be on the agenda at the next Strategy Group [meeting]. It absolutely needs looking at.
“Extremely recently, he’s been in people’s wind tunnels and looking at intimate details of next year’s cars. Only two weeks ago we were talking to him about suspension systems.”
Renault appears to have offered some concession by indicating it would delay the Pole’s arrival by a further three months to April 18.
Stressing that Budkowski’s role was “non-technical” in nature, Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul sought to downplay his rivals’ concerns.
“When you recruit someone it is not a short-term opportunity,” he explained.
“All the designs for next year’s car are already are frozen. This is not something he is going to influence and we will start from scratch for 2019.
“There is a limited influence that someone like this can make to a car. We are taking this person because he has the skills, and experience of Formula 1 that is required for our project – which is to become a top team by 2020.”
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