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Renault confirms controversial appointment of ex-FIA tech chief Budkowski

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Renault Formula 1 has confirmed the controversial appointment of former FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski in the role of executive director.

Budkowski has acted as the main point of contact for F1 teams with technical queries about their car, making him privy to sensitive information they would not share with rivals.

Team bosses were therefore left outraged when reports emerged in Malaysia that Budkowski was set to join Renault after handing in his notice at the FIA, who placed him on a three-month stint of gardening leave.

On Friday, Renault confirmed Budkowski will join in the future as executive director, boosting its management team and, crucially, “will oversee all chassis development and production activities”.

“There have been a lot of positive changes these last few months at Renault Sport Racing with an accelerated expansion at Enstone, the restructuring of our engine deployment from Viry with the supply of two top customer teams for 2018, three titles in a row in an increasingly competitive Formula E championship and other motor racing categories, and the arrival of new strategic partners,” Renault racing chief Cyril Abiteboul said.

“All of this is happening in a context where the seasons are longer and more intense. It was clear that the Renault Sport Racing management structure needed reinforcing.

“Marcin’s mission will be to continue the strengthening of Enstone to enable Renault to join the top Formula 1 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.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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