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Renault may extend Budkowski gardening leave to appease F1 rivals

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Renault may wait an additional three months before allowing ex-FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski to join its Formula 1 operation in a bid to appease rival teams left unhappy by the move.

Budkowski, a point of reference for all teams with technical queries about their cars, tendered his resignation with the FIA last week ahead of a move to Renault that was announced on Friday.

As Budkowski is only required to take three months of gardening leave, F1 team bosses were left fuming that someone privy to information about their cars could take their knowledge to a rival not long after leaving another role.

As a result, Renault is currently in talks with the FIA about extending Budkowski’s gardening leave by an additional three months, meaning he would not join until April at the earliest.

“There has been lots of talk about [the length of gardening leave], not from us. We always made it clear that we would not want to be aggressive in relation to that,” Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul said.

“From a contractual perspective, he could be available from early next year, but we have had a constructive discussion with the FIA and I believe that we are close to reaching an agreement on a start date that would I say make everyone comfortable.

“I think that is a date of early April, which is basically twice his gardening leave provision has been discussed, has been invoked.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet but that is something we are completely prepared to entertain as far as we are concerned.”

Abiteboul also expressed his doubt that Budkowski could have much of an influence on its plans in the near-future, making any information he has from teams about their 2018 cars redundant.

“When you recruit someone, it is not a short-term opportunity. All the designs of next year’s car are already frozen,” Abiteboul said.

“We are in the process of manufacturing moulds, suspension geometry, all of that is already decided since months. It is not something that is going to influence, and things will again start from scratch for 2019.

“There is limited influence someone like that can make to a car, and because of the obsolescence of information in Formula 1, 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 1 this is required for our programme and our project, which is to become a top team by 2020 – full stop.

“It’s not for what he knows today.”

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool