Renault willing to delay Marcin Budkowski start date to appease angry rivals

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Renault has refuted suggestions the signing of former FIA technical chief Marcin Bukowski will benefit the team in the short-term and have opened discussions about delaying his start date.

Budkowski has only just left his role as head of the FIA's technical department, where he was the main point of contact between the sport's governing body and teams -- making him knowledgeable of sensitive information. His departure prompted rumours of a switch to Renault, which was confirmed on Friday.

The French manufacturer's rivals are upset Bukowski was only given a three-month period of gardening leave as they feel he could take secrets across to the team's Enstone headquarters. Renault is open to the idea of doubling this period in order to appease those concerns.

"We always made it clear we would not want to be aggressive in relation to [gardening leave]," team boss Cyril Abiteboul said. "From a contract perspective he could be available as soon as early next year but we've had constructive discussions with the FIA and I think we are close to reaching an agreement on a start date that would make everyone be comfortable -- early April, which is basically twice his gardening provision which has been discussed.

"It's not completely confirmed yet but that's something we are completely prepared to entertain as far as we are concerned."

When asked if Budkowski resigned because he was offered a job by Renault, or if he was offered a job after resigning, Abiteboul said: "It's always an opportunity coming from both ways. There were some feelings that Marcin wanted to do some career progression, moving also away from the pure technical role that he is in currently to a wider management responsibility, which is something we had on offer. So always when a demand and an offer is meeting somewhere, that simply happened somewhere in the last couple of weeks."

Budkowski's signing is likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the F1 Strategy Group, which includes Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Force India and McLaren. The group has already written a formal letter to the FIA highlighting its concerns. Renault is not in the group due to its finishing position in 2016.

Though Abiteboul understands why some teams are upset, he says 2018's car designs are far too along the development process for Budkowski's knowledge to have any impact and insists the signing was made with Renault's long-term goals in mind.

"Approaching is unfortunately people is part of Formula One, its also a part of why Formula One is competitive and you have a level playing field and an interesting show and races. We often talk about the distortion created by the disparity of resources but you also need to have some freedom of people within the organisations so that racing is interest. That's my first comment.

"The second comment is yes I understand [concerns], but when you recruit someone it's not a short-term opportunity. All the designs of next year's car are already frozen, we are in the process of manufacturing moulds -- suspension, geometry, all that is already decided for six months. So it's not something that is going to influence and things will start from scratch from 2019. I think that in particular we don't want to use them... the gentlemen on my left and right will know there is a limited influence someone like that can make to a car.

"It's not going to make a huge difference. We are taking that person because he has the skills, he has the experience of Formula One that is required for our programme and for our project, which is to become a top team by 2020, full-stop -- it's not for what he knows today."

In terms of management structure, Budkowski will report directly to Abiteboul and work from the Enstone factory. Budkowski will work above the team's senior technical figures, Bob Bell, Nick Chester and Rob White.