Formula 1’s top teams are set to confront the FIA amid growing concerns its former F1 technical chief Marcin Budkowski could be taking their secrets to Renault.
The prospect of Renault hiring Budkowski was brought up in a meeting of top teams including Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in the Sepang paddock on Friday
The FIA dropped a bombshell on the Tuesday prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix when it revealed Budkowski had been put on immediate ‘gardening leave’ after handing in his resignation.
F1 race director Charlie Whiting sent teams a note asking them to stop sending Budkowski information and questions relating to current and future car designs.
In his role as head of the F1 technical department, Budkowski was in a privileged position of being privy to teams’ development secrets.
Competitors approach the FIA with ideas to ensure that developments they have planned comply with the regulations.
Budkowski also had detailed understanding of the current cars and engines through his responsibility for checking teams were not doing anything outside the rules.
The nature of Budkowski’s immediate departure from his role prompted suspicions that he was switching to a role with a current F1 team.
As the F1 paddock gathered in Malaysia, suspicions pointed to Budkowski having agreed a deal to join Renault once his three-month leave period ends.
Although Renault would not comment about the Budkowski situation on Friday, other teams are convinced a deal is already in place for him to move there.
That leaves Renault’s rivals worried it will have access to Budkowski’s extensive knowledge of how their current cars and engines operate, and potentially what they plan to introduce for 2018.
Autosport understands that the matter was discussed during an impromptu meeting in the Sepang paddock of the six teams – Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams, McLaren, Red Bull and Force India – represented on the F1 Strategy Group.
Sources have suggested teams are so angry about Budkowski being free to join a competitor only months after leaving the FIA, that they plan to add the matter to the next Strategy Group agenda.
A key issue is how the teams move forward in dealing with the FIA, if there is a chance that any secret developments they are planning, or designs that would be of interest to rivals, could find their way into the hands of another team.
One senior source at a team said: “This is all about trust. We need to talk with the FIA about how we go forward from here, because we cannot give out information if there is a chance other teams can get hold of it.
“If there is that risk, then we will have to keep everything secret.”
The FIA has not confirmed Budkowski’s plans, but issued a short statement saying that his responsibilities have now been assumed by Whiting.