Dennis relinquishes Formula One role at McLaren
McLaren announced on Thursday that Ron Dennis is to hand full responsibility for the company’s Formula One operation to Martin Whitmarsh, who took over as team principal at the start of March. Dennis will now concentrate his efforts on McLaren’s road car business.
“As of today, Ron Dennis has handed his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” confirmed a McLaren statement.
The announcement marks the end of a long and glorious Formula One career for Dennis, dating back almost 30 years. In that time he has led McLaren to seven constructors' world championships and ten drivers' world championships.
Reflecting on his life in Formula One, Dennis commented: "I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula One car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was ‘yes’. I duly attended it - albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.
"The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK - an activity I found surprisingly easy. I'd expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.”
Dennis’s withdrawal comes amid a difficult time for the team, who remain embroiled in the controversy surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix and the subsequent departure of McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan. Dennis insisted, however, that the decision to go was his alone.
"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with,” he added. “I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula One. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision. Equally, I was the architect of today's restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
"I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula One."