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2017 F1

Teams concerned FIA tech chief could join Renault, who knows all secrets



Formula 1 team raised concerns that the former head of the FIA’s technical chief, Marcin Budkowski, could take their secrets to a rival team following he recently resigned from his position.

The vision of Renault hiring Budkowski was brought up in a meeting of top teams including Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in the Sepang (Malaysian GP) paddock on Friday.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the period was far too short.

“We take major issue with that, if he does end up in another team,” Horner said. “You place a great amount of trust in these individuals in the role Marcin has been responsible for, he’s been in an extremely privileged position where he’s extremely recently been in people’s windtunnels, been looking at intimate details of knowledge of next year’s cars.

“I think three months’ notice period for him to then turn up in a competitor team in Formula One is entirely inappropriate, so I certainly hope that isn’t the case and I’m sure it will get discussed quite seriously at the next Strategy Group meeting. It’s an important, vital role and it’s important teams have trust and faith in the governing body that they can share and discuss their technical know-how, their technical secrets in many respects, which cost millions and millions of pounds, and in confidence that information doesn’t have the ability to end up at a rival team.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also raised worries over trust with the FIA if Budkowski ends up at a rival team within the next three months.

“We received an email from Charlie [Whiting, FIA director of F1] saying he [Budkowski] would be leaving the FIA and he will be on gardening leave for three months. I personally get on well with Marcin and wish him success in his career, but we need to look at the timings.

“We need to be transparent with the FIA and give the access, and therefore in order to have the full trust of the teams it is important to have a certain stability and understanding about how quick someone can leave the FIA and join another competitive team.”

Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer said he would expect at least one year of gardening leave before a senior member of the FIA technical department could work for one of the teams.

“It has to be long enough such that the technology that he’s aware becomes, not obsolete but not leading edge,” Szafnauer said. “I think there’s some sporting regulations too that prohibit us from selling current-year cars for exactly the same reason, the cars have to be exactly one year before we can dispose of them. It’s for that reason and I think notice periods should follow along the same lines.”

Horner added: “I think industry standard for the sort of role Marcin has been performing would be anywhere between 12 and 18 months. We would certainly look to place a senior personnel on our team on at least 12 months.”

The FIA gave no information on Budkowski’s permanent replacement other than confirming that Whiting would assume his role in the interim period.



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