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2017 F1

Rivals furious as FIA chief joins Renault

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A huge controversy has emerged as FIA technical boss Marcin Budkowski looks set to join the Renault team.

Budkowski, a 40-year-old Pole, was tipped to take over from F1 race director Charlie Whiting, but instead he has gone on three months of ‘gardening leave’.

The big rumour in the Sepang paddock is that he is joining Renault — but rival teams are furious that he will take intimate secrets of their 2018 cars to the French marque.

An emergency meeting of the F1 strategy group was held at the Williams hospitality area on Friday.

“We take major issue if he ends up with a team,” admitted Red Bull’s Christian Horner.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff added: “I don’t think it’s correct because he’s had access to a lot of information.”

McLaren boss Eric Boullier said: “We are all concerned that an FIA official who had access to a lot of information can start working in one of the teams within three months.”

Sauber’s Frederic Vasseur said: “If we can’t be open with the FIA, it’s a tricky situation.”

And Force India chief Otmar Szafnauer commented: “Three months is not long enough.”

Horner said the “industry standard” gardening leave in F1 is 12-18 months, but under Swiss law, Budkowski is only prohibited from working for three months.

Boullier said: “We cannot prohibit anyone from changing jobs and we must respect the laws in force in different countries. But we think that for FIA representatives at that level, another minimum length for gardening leave must be established.”

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