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Ron Dennis To Step Down As McLaren Team Principal

Ron Dennis To Step Down As McLaren Team Principal

At the launch of the McLaren MP4-24 today, team boss Ron Dennis stated he would be stepping down from the position prior to the 2009 season getting underway in March. Dennis said he was not retiring and would be focusing his energies on other parts of the McLaren group of companies. This is something the 61-year old has hinted at doing for a while, but wanted the team to be in a stable position before doing so.

It would appear that now the saga of 2007 is behind them, McLaren are moving forward and having won the drivers title in 2008, the squad will be pushing to take both titles in 2009. With this foundation, Dennis feels that now is the right time to step back and let the team move forward with a new principal. Despite only intending to attend a few races this year, Dennis said that he will be working harder in the background to ensure the business will continue to thrive during the economic downturn.

First thing I am going to do is work harder, that is the first target. I intend to raise my own game because I think everybody in our organisation at every level realises this is a tough period in which we are going to work and of course we are a very diverse organisation now.

I intend to work harder and will take on greater responsibility in the group. I will be full executive chairman. It is time and I have to say it is absolutely 100 percent my decision. It is what I want to do, but I do intend to work much harder. Ron Dennis.

The new team principal at McLaren will be the current CEO of the Formula One operation, Martin Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh has been involved with McLaren since 1989 and has helped orchestrate many of the team’s achievements. Starting out as the Head Of Operations, Whitmarsh was promoted in 1997 to Managing Director. Martin’s recent promotion to CEO came in 2004 and allowed Ron Dennis to oversee other parts of the company while leaving the Formula One operation in safe hands.

Don’t’ see it as some sort of retirement, I want to work harder in other areas and having to plan those tasks around the GP calendar is disruptive to the process. It is a job that Martin will embrace and enjoy. It is a job over the years we have shared anyway, but it will be his decision to influence things at a grand prix circuit. Ron Dennis.

Ron Dennis praised Whitmarsh and said that Martin will embrace his new role at McLaren. Dennis also insisted that this is not his retirement speech and that we will still see him around at some of the races. I’ll let Ron have the final word…

I will always be part of McLaren. I just want to have the odd longer weekend. Ron Dennis.

Oliver White

8 comments

  • A real shame

    I don’t think it’s a shame (I’m indifferent), but that’s probably because I’ve been expecting it for about three years now. Ron will still be around in the background, a bit like how Luca di Montezemolo is at Ferrari. Also, Martin Whitmarsh is a bit more emotional, or at least he shows his emotions more, which will make for better viewing at least.

    I think this decision was almost necessary for the future stability of McLaren, and the company are making plans where others are not. With Briatore moving away from the limelight, do we know who will take over at Renault yet (if we do, can someone remind me)? At least McLaren are taking positive steps to the future.

  • I have no idea what Renault’s plan is. Williams apparently has a succession plan but won’t tell anyone what it is. Ferrari would presumably promote from within, but we have no idea who. McLaren had an openly-declared succession strategy for years, which says how confident they were in the future.

    I have a feeling Martin Whitmarsh will make a good leader for McLaren. And good to see that Ron won’t be going far.

  • Williams apparently has a succession plan but won’t tell anyone what it is.

    I would presume it involves Sam Michael. I mean, Williams would never sell (I hope).

    Ferrari would presumably promote from within, but we have no idea who.

    They promoted from within after Todt moved away from the position, and so far Stefano Domenicali isn’t doing too bad of a job, all things considering. It beats me who would be next though.

    I have a feeling Martin Whitmarsh will make a good leader for McLaren.

    I think he’ll do okay as well. After all, he has sort of been doing it with Ron for the past few years anyway. It’s just that now he’ll be doing it with his face published in the papers, not Ron’s.

  • Whitmarsh should do a good job. He was recruited specifically for this and has had 20 years training for it.

    I am glad Ron was able to go out on a high with a championship and a great driver in his car. I am sure he will still be running things apart from during the race weekends.

    F1 will be worse off without Ron’s involvement.

    Frank Williams’s son and daughter work for the company so I would guess the plan is for them to take over ownership. I can’t think if a team that has ever been successfully handed down a generation but I guess that is because most of them don’t last that long.

  • I can’t think if a team that has ever been successfully handed down a generation but I guess that is because most of them don’t last that long.

    And that the sport isn’t really that old yet. Only 50-odd years of constructor championships. But as you say Steven, I think the vast majority don’t last long enough to get handed down.

  • I am not at all surprised, I think this would have happened at the end of 2007, if “2007” had not happened instead.

    All the same, I wish Ron all the best – he has given a lot to the sport over the past few decades.

    I wonder, now with Ron gone, will S&Max let up on his hatred of McLaren?

  • I think Ron will have a strong hand in the F1 operations at McLaren for the forseeable future, so he’s not completely going away. Whitmarsh has indeed been in development for the role, and combining the two, I don’t think they will miss a beat. All the best to Ron in whatever his new role will be called!

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