FIA, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Teams concerned FIA technical chief could join rival for 2018

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

F1 team principals have voiced concerns that a senior FIA technical figure with extensive knowledge of current and future car designs could be about to join one of their rivals.

Marcin Budkowski, who was the head of the FIA’s Formula One Technical Department, has been placed on three months’ ‘gardening leave’ following his resignation, meaning he could join a team in time for the start of 2018.

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

“We take major issue that if he does end up in another team,” said Horner during today’s FIA press conference.

“Obviously in these individuals you place an enormous amount of trust. In the role that Marcin has been responsible for he’s been in an extremely privileged position where extremely recently he’s been in people’s wind tunnels, been looking at intimate details of knowledge of next year’s cars.”

“I think three months’ notice period for him then to turn up in a competitor team in Formula One is entirely inappropriate. I certainly hope that isn’t the case. I’m sure it will get discussed quite seriously in the Strategy Group meeting.”

“It’s an important role and it’s vital the 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 costs millions and millions of pounds, in confidence that that information doesn’t have the ability to end up in a rival team.”

Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer agreed with Horner. “It would have been nice to know the notice period,” he said. “Three months I don’t think is long enough.”

“Had we known it was three months earlier perhaps we would have hired him,” he added. “But three months is nowhere near long enough.”

Szafnauer said an acceptable period between Budkowski leaving the FIA and joining another team would be one year.

“It has to be long enough that the technology he’s aware of becomes, not obsolete, but not leading-edge,” he 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 at least one year before we can dispose of them. It’s or that reason. I think notice periods should proceed along the same lines.”

Horner said an “industry standard” period for Budkowski’s role would be “anywhere between 12 and 18 months.”

“We would look to please any senior personnel on our team on at least 12 months,” he added.

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2017 F1 season

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 36 comments on “Teams concerned FIA technical chief could join rival for 2018”

    1. Maybe the other teams would agree to pay him for another 9 months to defer his joining… Renault (I think?)

    2. Spygate done properly

    3. How on earth is there not a non-compete clause written in to his contract?

      Don’t criticise him – it’s business. If you want to point the blame, blame whomever is writing the small print in the contracts at the FIA.

      1. @ecwdanselby

        How on earth is there not a non-compete clause written in to his contract?

        Based on what they were saying on Sky during FP2 it’s down to Swiss law as the FIA’s legal team that handles employee contracts is based in the FIA Geneva office.

        Usually in these sorts of situations the person in question is put on a forced 12 months ‘garden leave’ (Basically told to stay away from his previous work), However under Swiss law they can’t place somebody on garden leave for any longer than 3 months.

        1. But ‘gardening leave’ and ‘non compete’ are 2 different (complementary) things.

        2. Thanks for clarifying.

          I just feel like raging against the guy is wrong. It’s a business move. I’m sure he has been offered a good package to jump ship.

          If anyone has any complaints, they should be raising them with the FIA/Swiss government.

          1. F1 for better or for worse is a closed shop. The governing body employed an individual as a technical delegate with access to the teams plans and ideas for next years cars. That delegate cannot then leave with that knowledge within month of obtaining it, taking it to a rival team. That is just plainly ridiculous. The take that up with the government / law enforcement in the country where you are based line can’t and will not wash. The FIA’s legal department just had to have seen this one coming.

      2. I know his contract should specify the length of by gardening leave to be longer, but come on. This was always going to cause problems for the fia. If a technical delegate who has obviously had access to most of the teams ideas for next years cars, can leave & within months be telling all to a rival team, how can the teams trust FIA’s technical delegates. If they can’t then, the governing body essentially becomes useless. Also, this issue comes across as another example where todt hands off approach is actually doing more harm than good.

    4. Alonso was perhaps waiting for him to resign and ensure that his transition to Renault was in place before he signs a contract with McRenault for 2018.

      ~What i have said is baseless. But its fun to theorize.

      1. I like this. I’m already imagining Alonso in a competitive McLaren facing off against Vettel and Hamilton.

    5. Rumours are saying he will go to Renault, starting in January.

      This will only drift Renault and Red Bull further apart.

      1. If that happens, this will rip the FIA’s credibility to shreds with the all teams. A longer, and I think self imposed, gardening leave of 12 to 18 months could defuse the issue.

    6. Still bad blood between Red Bull and Renault. I sometimes think the whole Renault team project was in part to spite Red Bull. At least for Abiteboul.

      1. Don’t really get your point. This would be a concern for everybody, and if he ends ups at Renault certainly it wouldn’t be in spite of what RBR has done in the past and their comments towards Reanult’s engine.

        Renault might just as well have the entire paddock against them. Today not only Horner, but also Wolff, Steiner, Fernley and even Isola from Pirelli voiced concern if such a person with a lot of info ends up working for a racing team

        1. @johnmilk The point is that it’s Horner up in arms about it, and it’s not because they have the class of the field intellectual property to protect.

          1. @balue that’s the thing, it is not Horner, it is everyone, no point in making this thing about RedBull-Renault, because it isn’t, we don’t even know where Marcin will end up to. This rumours of him being linked to Renault, is atm just that.

            Regardless, everyone asked today about it shared the same point of view, 3 months is a far too short period of time for someone who has information regarding every single team on the grid and their most hidden secrets if that someone decides to accept an offer to work for a racing outfit.

            The only teams that haven’t yet said anything about it are Ferrari, Renault and McLaren

          2. @balue, as @johnmilk notes, most of the grid have reacted with considerable anger to this announcement – we have seen Vasseur openly question whether the teams can continue to place any trust in the FIA’s officials if they can, without any warning, suddenly defect to another team and potentially take confidential information with them (and it isn’t as if people have been rushing to copy Sauber’s car this year). We saw a similar issue back in 2011 with Gilles Simon after he quit his position at the FIA to take up a position at PURE, Pollock’s planned engine company that never took off – it was only the failure of that company which stopped that argument getting too out of hand.

            I do think that, as @johnmilk notes, if the rumours are true then this may prove to be a rather bad move by Renault in the politics of the sport. I would not be surprised if we see a major row break out next year if Budkowski joins the team very quickly and some parts of Renault’s 2018 car end up bearing a striking resemblance to parts on rival cars.

    7. Well, who can blame Renault if they feel like dishing out a little revenge on Red Bull. The way the team behaved towards the engine supplier through the press was absolutely disgusting.

      1. @shimks I don’t blame them at all.

      2. The whole grid is up in arms about this one. It’s not just red bull.

    8. It would be a shame if he joins Renault in January as it will mean most will attribute any success the team may have to cheating.

      1. But they won’t have cheated. It’s a clever strategic maneuver… I like their style. It’s not their fault there is no rule out law against it!

        1. You can’t legislate for everything in f1. Agreements exist, and then there’s common sense. This row is just stupid. The fia and delegate should have known that.

    9. Is this a Millennial thing? If a company or individual is successful or pulls off a clever business coup, the results of such tactics are seen as “due to cheating?” Does no one get credit for being clever these days or is it all seen as a result of cheating? I’m appalled people think this way. I’ve seen it time and time again recently, especially in F1.

      1. This is not about smart people or companies.

        This is about a person with inside information leaving the FIA and possibly joining a team early enough in the pre-season to allow him to exploit that information, which he obtained while working for a neutral entity in Formula One. The fact that the FIA have only given him a 3-month “gardening leave” is just awful.

        1. @casjo, the problem is that Budkowski works in the FIAs office in Geneva, so his contract is governed by Swiss employment law. It is reported that the FIA cannot impose a longer “gardening leave” period than 3 months, otherwise they would be in breach of Swiss employment law.

          Furthermore, there has always been a question as to whether the “gardening leave” periods that most teams insist upon are actually legal – nobody seems to have had the stomach to deal with what could be a rather difficult legal fight, but there is a body of opinion to suggest that some of the lengthier “gardening leave” periods might be illegal, and indeed in recent years it is notable that the length of some “gardening leave” periods have shortened, perhaps out of fear of legal action if they were thought to be excessive.

          1. I know you make a good point about the length of gardening leave under swiss law, however f1 is a closed shop, and the governing body and its employees are meant to be neutral. Information obtained while working for the fia, cannot end up with a rival team within month of it been obtained. The optics of this for the fia, and especially for todt, is not good at all.

      2. Is this a Millennial thing?

        You’d be hard pressed to describe any F1 team boss as a millennial, but then again I guess you are old and don’t understand.

        If a company or individual is successful or pulls off a clever business coup, the results of such tactics are seen as “due to cheating?”

        So you are perfectly happy for the FIA to take the hard work and technological secrets of any particular F1 team and then hand them out to another? What an odd stance to take. Maybe you just don’t like fair competition?

      3. @Baron

        are seen as “due to cheating?”

        Who is saying anyone has cheated?

        1. @keithcollantine, et al. It was in response to @petebaldwin comment “It would be a shame if he joins Renault in January as it will mean most will attribute any success the team may have to cheating.

          This word “cheating” props up so often in F1 responses these days and it has come to mean all manner of things. It is an unpleasant word which infers underhand illegal practice and is often bandied about in response to, quite often, an accomplishment that has no direct explanation. Jenson Button’s World Championship for example, is often referred to as the direct result of “cheating” (double diffuser) and as such is an insult to the guy’s accomplishment. If one ‘legally’ takes advantage of a loophole and scores, it is emphatically NOT cheating. Pete Baldwin alludes to this and says that any success that Renault achieves (if Budkowski joins) “most will attribute any success the team may have to cheating” when it is (or would be) nothing of the kind. You might call it “an unfair advantage” but it is emphatically not cheating. That is the point I am making. The word is often misused in an extremely negative & insulting fashion. Finally to Martin, I was referring to “fan’s” responses not F1 management and yes, I am “old” old enough to remember to use words in the proper meaning & context. My use of the adjective “Millennial” was merely a term to suggest “more recent” not an indictment of a generation, so climb down from your tall horse my friend..

          1. Apologies for the bold. It seems to have got stuck!

    10. I usually don’t agree with Horner but this thing is a little bit farcical.
      How can you allow someone who has access to such sensible data to leave and join a team after only 3 months?
      I think this shows the amateur approach FIA, has towards economical/business issues.
      No surprise that Bernie had the whole business in his pocket for many many years…

    11. F1 is all about exploiting the edges of the rules. RBR, Ferrari, Mercedes have all done it in the recent past.

      I say let him go according to the current standards and watch Renault compete for the top step in the next two years. And I’m not even French.

      1. Who is going to share any sensitive information with the fia, if it is going to end up potentially, with a rival team just months later. I hope that comment was a joke. You want teams to have confidence in the governing body’s systems and procedures, if that is not there, the fia and the sport are doomed. And trust me on this one, I’m an African boy, without confidence in regulations and a belief in their implementations, you have chaos. That benefits no one. Not the fia, and certainly not any team in the long run.

    12. I agree with Horner. 3 months ‘gardening leave’ is too short for an FIA member. 12 or 18 months would be much better.

    Comments are closed.