Dennis to bow out as McLaren team principal 16 Jan 2009
Following the launch of McLarens new car on Friday, Ron Dennis has announced he is to step down from his role as team principal and hand over to McLarens Formula One CEO, Martin Whitmarsh. Dennis will, however, stay on as chief executive of the McLaren Group and will still attend some races.
"Let me make one thing clear: this is very definitely not retirement," said Dennis. "In fact, I intend to work even harder from now on. And it's because I intend to work even harder - on growing the McLaren Group - that I've decided to pass the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin.
"In any case, this announcement wont change a great deal because, in his capacity as Chief Operating Officer of McLaren Group, Martin and I already jointly take all the major decisions that affect this company. What todays decision means is that Martin will now become solely responsible for the performance of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and will be entrusted to ensure the team remains a competitive force in Formula One motor racing.
"As for myself, I will continue to expand and develop my role as McLaren Group Chairman and still intend to go to some, but not all, Grands Prix because I remain a diehard enthusiast. Motor racing is in my blood - and nothing will dilute my passion for either the sport or the success of this company."
Whitmarsh, who joined McLaren in 1989, will take over from Dennis from March 1, ahead of the season-opening Australian race in Melbourne on March 29.
"Ron and I have had many discussions about this over the past few weeks and months, but eventually it became clear that Rons decision was final," commented Whitmarsh. "Everyone knows what an incredible career Ron has had to date; his legacy is huge. As such, I remain hugely mindful of the responsibilities I assume as team principal - its a daunting yet exciting prospect. Despite todays announcement, I hope we will still continue to work as closely together as before."
Dennis kick-started his motorsport career in 1966, joining the Cooper Racing Car Company, after a spell as an apprentice mechanic. Within two years he moved to Brabham where he became the chief mechanic to Jack Brabham. By 1971, however, an ambitious Dennis had left to set up his own Formula Two team, Rondel Racing.
Rondel would be the first of several successful F2 and Procar outfits Dennis was involved with over the next decade. His big break, however, came in 1980 when his team Project Four merged with McLaren to form McLaren Racing. Within two years hed assumed control of the team.
McLaren have since won 162 races, eight constructors championships and 12 driver titles. Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna are just some of the famous names to have won championships whilst driving for McLaren, while the teams most recent champion, Lewis Hamilton, was hand-picked by Dennis when he was just 13 years-old as a future talent.
Denniss entrepreneurial skills have also led McLaren to diversify into several other areas including the design and manufacture of revolutionary road cars. In 2000, he was honoured with a CBE for services to motorsport and he retains a stake in McLaren, alongside fellow shareholders DaimlerChrysler and the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company.