Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

Renault confirms hiring of controversial Budkowski

2017 F1 season

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Renault has announced former FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski will join its team as an executive director.

The hiring has attracted controversy due to the extent of access Budkowski has had to rival teams’ car designs in his previous role in charge of the Formula One technical department at the sport’s governing body.

Some of Renault’s rivals have complained Budkowski will be able to start work for Renault just three months after leaving his role at the FIA, during which time he had the opportunity to acquire detailed knowledge of their cars.

“I think three months’ notice period for him to turn up in a competitor team in Formula One is entirely inappropriate, said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in Malaysia.

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said “we need to look at the timings” of Budkowski’s move.

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

Renault magaing director Cyril Abiteboul, whom Budkowksi will report to, said the team has made an offer not to being his employment until early April.

“It was clear that the Renault Sport Racing management structure needed reinforcing,” said Abiteboul. “Marcin’s mission will be to continue the strengthening of Enstone to enable Renault to join the top Formula One teams by 2020, through relying on the proven personnel of the likes of Bob Bell, Nick Chester and Rob White. Marcin’s arrival is excellent news and further proof of our determination to achieve our goals.”

2017 F1 season

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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...

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  • 38 comments on “Renault confirms hiring of controversial Budkowski”

    1. Headlines in Nov 2018:

      “Spurred by a post summer break upgrade, Renault and Nico Hulkenberg have charged to the 2018 World Drivers and Constructors Championships”

      1. Let’s get the first race headline out of the way.

        “Hulkenberg scores first podium”

        When asked if he could convert that into wins in the season he answered, “for sure. “

      2. It might not be so straight forward but definitely it is not a good sign. Also, I don’t think there is anything other teams can do to stop him from helping Renault even if his joining is delayed as he has already pledges his allegiance to Renault and can help them from outside until his direct involvement.

    2. This is great news! It’s a little rich for Toto and Christian to try and block it, considering the fact that it’s perfectly legal, as compared to their Flexi Wings and Illegal Tyre test.

      It should give Renault a nice little advantage going in to 2018, which could be developed over the year to make them a part of the top 3 teams in 2019. They’re a team with a lot of history in the sport, and it would be great to see them join the party up front.

      1. Yeah, I agree that it is good news for the quality of the competition. If we can have Mercedes, Ferrari joined at the front by Red Bull, McLaren AND Renault in the fight for the real prizes, i’d think that can only be good for fans and for the sport as a whole.

      2. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
        6th October 2017, 9:38

        @todfod I just came here to say the same thing – how can this not be good news for the fans of the sport? With Red Bull’s future (at least, its future competitiveness) looking doubtful, Renault is perfectly placed to springboard into the title fight in the next year or two – perfect timing for Verstappen to join them.

        Hamilton – Mercedes
        Vettel – Ferrari
        Verstappen – Renault
        Alonso – McLaren (though he’ll probably have retired)

        A mouthwatering prospect!

        1. This is great for the sport, it could only be better if he shared all the secrets between all the teams, however, you can understand the teams trying to limit the impact – exactly as Renault would of any other team employed him! Politics as much a part of the sports as the engine or the drivers, and it’s just as fascinating to follow, for me at least! Renault just pulled a master stroke, not quite as great as Ferrari’s extra funding, but could prove to be close!

    3. So, his previous role was to analyze the designs/plans submitted by teams and see if they adhered to the technical rules of F1, right? How much experience he has in designing cars?

      It looks like Renault is hiring him so as to access his treasure trove of emails, not necessarily him.

      Nevertheless, I am with Horner, Toto et al on this one. Three months is too less. He should have a gardening leave of at least 6 months.

      1. Yes, I agree. But as per the law of sweetheart the maximum gardening leave permitted is 3 months I think

        1. Law of Switzerland. Keep your sweethearts to yourself 😁

          1. Well, my sweetheart (aka “The Wife”) tends to lay down the law ever so often, so …

      2. sumedh, he’s got 13 years of experience in designing cars, having worked as a senior aerodynamicist between 2001 and 2014 – he had been working as McLaren’s Head of Aerodynamics before he moved to the FIA.

        Incidentally, there is the irony that he had to wait for longer to join the FIA from McLaren (six months) than his move to Renault is taking (three months) – I imagine that particularly rankles with some teams.

        1. Basically the experience that he has is not winning with McLaren, apart from Hamilton’s championship year

          No worries than

          1. He also worked with Ferrari in 2007

            1. Mike, because one of my favourite things in life is to be right. Lets just say that Ferrari didn’t won the WDC amd WCC in 2007, it was just McLaren losing both.

          2. @johnmilk, given that his stint as a senior aerydynamicist at Ferrari was from 2002 to 2007, that does mean that he can also claim credit for the development of cars such as the F2002 and F2004.

          3. @Your other comment: ferrari was the superior car both in 2007 and in 2008, don’t forget in 2007 mclaren had 2 top drivers in hamilton and alonso and ferrari had average-good drivers, raikkonen and massa.

      3. This is F1 – the sport of finding loopholes.

    4. He had insight into 2017 cars, but teams did not share their 2018 development plans with FIA and those are well under way. Budkowski can share some of the 2017 solutions, but he his knowledge as of today is pretty much the same as his knowledge at the start of this season. I don’t see a big problem here to be honest.

      1. Teams might well have shared ideas they are working on with the FIA, to check that they are on the right side of the narrow legal/illegal dividing line @maroonjack, that’s what they usually do so that they don’t have to prove it all at the 1st race but can give up on things the FIA tells them are not allowed. So it is worse than just getting an in-depth knowledge of the current cars of rivals.

        1. @bosyber True, but that’s not the usual practice as far as I know. All controversial innovations I remember were introduced during the pre-season tests and then FIA were becoming aware of them. Usually it’s just before the first race, when some solutions receive green light, while others are banned.

          I think Budkowski’s move and his three months’ notice period are legal precisely because he doesn’t have extensive knowledge about teams’ 2018 plans.

          1. Only the ones that stand a chance of being legal get developed that far @maroonjack, the others we just won’t hear about – but they may give teams ideas to try something like it, but better/more legal. Regardless, I read in the article about this that the guy only recently had a tour of the full Red Bull facilities – a lot more in depth than an outsider, let alone a rival would normally see, I think.

        2. @bosyber My understanding was that if a team asked the FIA for clarification on a technical issue that the answer from the FIA was shared with all teams anyway so teams generally ask questions about other teams’ solutions in the hope of getting them banned (or getting clarification that they can go ahead and do something similar)?

    5. Headline 1: Budkowski joins Renault
      Headline 2: Renault working on magic engine mode

      Correlation or causation? :-)

      1. Coincidence

        It’d be foolish to think that Renault would not have been trying to develope this anyway

    6. Good for Renault! Fans want competition and not domination. Perhaps what he knows is worth a few tenths of a second per lap. I hope they get it and I’m a Ferrari fan. I know you’ll all hate me for saying this, but my favourite driver of all time is Prost. ;)

    7. This is Renault catching up with Merc/Ferrari in the strategic stakes. No loophole left unturned, even in personnel. Brilliant, and very F1.

    8. Hey, who needs ethics? This is sport after all.

    9. Exciting news, in my opinion. Fair? Nope. But great for the sport!

      So we are in October and the teams have been busy designing their 2018 cars for quite a while now. When do you think Budkowski’s influence will be felt on the track – already at the start of the season or a few races in? Do the big first upgrades usually appear at Barcelona?

    10. Big FIA leak… wonder if they split the millions…

    11. “I think three months’ notice period for him to turn up in a competitor team in Formula One is entirely inappropriate”, said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in Malaysia, adding “clearly the only team that he should be allowed to turn up at with three months’ notice is Red Bull Racing.”

    12. Whatever it takes to get Hulk on the podium, I am for it…

    13. I suspect the fuss over Budkowski’s signing is a bit blown out of proportion. He may have a few ideas about things other teams were pondering which he can take to Renault, but there’s a difference between ideas and fully fleshed-out implementations. Then there’s not knowing which of those ideas teams have decided not to run with for whatever reason besides the FIA’s opinion on their legality. And with a three month gap, and the designs for next year’s cars being already committed, and the lead time involved in bringing new parts… yeah it’s not a big deal.

      Besides, if I was in a senior design position in an F1 team, I would have been poisoning the FIA datawell for years by floating ideas I knew would damage performance and had no intention of ever putting on the car.

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