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
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year