Team’s not happy; a fox in the hen house?

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1

They have a point. If the former FIA Formula 1 technical department head Marcin Budkowski has just tendered his resignation and been put on gardening leave and is now rumored to be joining Renault Sport F1 in 2018, you can see why the other teams may have a major issue with that.

Marcin is the man who is at the tip of the spear with regards to all things technical in F1 and the teams have shared all their 2017 and 2018 technical design direction, technical regulation compliance with regards to their proposed designs for 2018 and basically shared some incredibly sensitive information with him.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has a major issue with the situation according to Autosport:

“We will take major issue with that if he does end up in another team,” said Horner.

“You place an enormous of trust in the role that Marcin has been responsible for.

“He has been in an extremely privileged position where he has extremely recently been in people’s windtunnels and been looking at intimate details of knowledge of next year’s cars.

“I think three months’ notice period and for him to then turn up in a competitor team in F1, is entirely inappropriate.

“I hope that isn’t the case and I am sure it will get discussed quite seriously at the next Strategy Group meeting.”

I can’t say as I blame them but poaching engineers with technical details from other teams has happened before in Formula 1—but is this the same? Marcin is not just coming from another team, he’s been privy to all the teams technical data.

I am not sure how non-competition employment clauses work in France but in the states, they are not favorably looked upon by judges in a court of law if they are too egregious. Still, I’ve seen 18 months as about the maximum in the case I’ve been involved in with most a max of 12 and even some cases dismissed due to the clause actually preventing a person from being gainfully employed and providing a living.

It will be interesting to see how the FIA handle this and perhaps the three-month gardening leave that Horner mentions is all the FIA’s employment contract could impose on Marcin. Time will tell but it is an aggressive move for Renault and just adds to my comments about Renault becoming a serious force in F1 again. When they bought Lotus, I said that is the team to watch and people scoffed at me and when I said Alonso should go there, people laughed but this team knows how to win and with corporate backing, they may do just that and sooner than later.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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charlie white

On another UK-based F1 site, the discussion on “gardening leave” came up and someone on the thread stated that a 3-month period is considered gardening leave under Swiss labor laws. I think the assumption was in this thread is the FIA is following that mandate. That might be the French law, too. Then it devolved into a difference between “gardening leave” and “non-compete clauses” and I stopped reading.

Negative Camber

Yeah, I didn’t want to get way out in the long grass on this topic and the legality of it but suffice it to say, there is a legal precedent being followed whether Swiss or French. I suspect the FIA would have taken the most extreme option via their employment contract and that must be 3 months. The teams will not feel that is long enough but not sure what the FIA can do about it.

subcritical71

Swiss labor laws are very worker friendly. I am continually amazed at what post employment benefits they are entitled to as well as how they are protected, say in the case of layoffs or closings. It can take years to come to an agreement with the labor boards. This is good for the worker and I am not against it, I wish we had some of these similar laws in the US. The ability of a worker to be able to work in his industry is considered a Human Right to the Swiss. Having said that, isn’t the purpose of… Read more »

subcritical71

I can see the teams being concerned as I think Renault have pulled a great one here. They all poach from each other, Renault were just smart enough to see an opportunity to poach from all teams at once… Brilliant! How many teams do you think are now looking at who they could claim from the FIA before something gets put in place to block? How about this conspiracy theory – with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull more or less on par with each other, what if a small 3 months gardening leave is the FIA taking the opportunity to… Read more »

bonbonjai

This is not about Renault been smart. If this goes ahead, (and I think it won’t) what team would trust the fia technical delegate again. After all if this works who is to doubt that it will not happen again. Once again the fia find itself in a situation where any good lawyer with employment law would have see this problem coming. 3 months is too short 12 to 18 months is likely the best solution for everyone as otherwise this could get very messy.

jakobusvdl

This highlights one of the problems F1 have with marketing the sport. The technical aspects are regarded as so ‘secret’ that the teams jealousy guard them from their rivals, and certainly don’t want to talk to the fans about them.
So we get driver soap opera’s instead.

Maybe if the teams do block Marcin’s move to Renault, Todd can hire him as technical advisor to F1B.

Meine Postma

Paying him even more zeroes :-)

Paul KieferJr

I probably would be up in arms about this. It amounts to a conflict of interests.

jakobusvdl

I’m not sure its much different from James Alison leaving Ferrari for Mercedes, Paddy Lowe going to Williams from Mercedes. At the top level Motor Sport there seems to be a small pool of talent, that all the teams fish in.
So stopping the move would be a ‘restraint of trade’.

Paul KieferJr

I disagree. This would be more like me leaving my current job to open up a tax preparation company. Very big difference, and very much against the law (I’d have to wait a few years to do that).

jakobusvdl

I don’t think there has been any suggestion that the move is against the law. But obviously the team bosses are pretty concerned about it.
Apart from the length of the ‘gardening leave’ period I don’t see this would be more advantageous to Renault than the Alison and Lowe moves have been to Mercedes and Williams.
Is this just more Teams vs FIA politics?

Paul KieferJr

It’s more of a case of ethics (those are the laws that I work under). Is it ethical for someone with certain specific rules / laws knowledge to suddenly take on a job where he can use that knowledge to the benefit of someone and the disadvantage of others? In my case, it’s “no”.

jakobusvdl

I understand what you’re saying about workplace ethics.
I guess Budkowski is a professional engineer, and will be bound by a professional code of ethics, so it might be very presumptuous of the teams and commentators to assume that he might act in an unethical way. It would certainly seem wrong to block his career because he ‘may’ act unethically.

Meine Postma

I’m a cynic, but I always assume that for most people ethics always comes second to greed.

So in my mind Renault pays a lot of money for exactly the sharing of the ‘unethical’ knowledge of all team secrets that ‘bud’ has.

I see a future of a lot of complaining from Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes and after that a lot of people with know how leaving the FIA to those teams.

jakobusvdl

You’re right, that is the cynical viewpoint ;-)
From the weekend interviews with Horner etc, it looks like a longer period of gardening leave would solve the problem.
That sounds like nonsense to me, I can’t imagine the useful life of F1 insider knowledge is 6 months.

bonbonjai

Paul KieferJr Come on, there is a difference here. The FIA are the regulators of the sport. An employee, who has access to all the teams technical information for next years cars as part of his job. He then decides to leave, for one of the competitors within 3 month, when the information he has is still valuable. That can’t be right. Put it this? Why would teams trust the fia technical delegate if, whatever is discussed can end up with another teams within 3 months. Crazy.

jakobusvdl

But deciding that anyone who works for the FIA can’t work for any one else in that branch of motorsport is not crazy?

subcritical71

I agree 100% that this is a s#!t situation for the other teams. I would say they all do this already just not to the degree as this. Poaching is very common, technology moves from one team to the other team, this is a massive poach. Trust is something nobody in F1 has with anyone. They do things by contracts and rules that are scrutinized. If a loop hole is found they exploit it, that is F1. This is a loop hole that may or may not be able to be patched due to labor laws. It will not release… Read more »

Meine Postma

Just quoting the podcast man :-)