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.