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“End of an F1 era” – reaction to McLaren shareholders removing Ron Dennis from power

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“End of an F1 era” – reaction to McLaren shareholders removing Ron Dennis from power
Nov 16, 2016, 1:49 PM

The reaction to Ron Dennis being ousted as the McLaren Technology Group’s chief executive officer from the Formula 1 and the wider media has focu...

The reaction to Ron Dennis being ousted as the McLaren Technology Group’s chief executive officer from the Formula 1 and the wider media has focused on the ending of the 35-year period that the Briton has led the Woking-based company.

Dennis announced he was leaving McLaren after he failed in last minute attempt in the UK High Court to prevent his fellow McLaren shareholders – Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahraini Mumtalakat wealth fund – from suspending him on gardening leave until his contract expires in two months.

The 69-year-old took charge of McLaren in 1980 when it was merged with his Formula 2 and Formula 3 outfit, Project Four Racing, and he bought the majority of the team in 1981. Under his leadership, McLaren has won 158 races – out of a total of 182 – seven of its eight constructors championships and ten of its 12 drivers titles.

Ron Dennis Gazzetta

Reacting to the news of Dennis leaving McLaren, the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport ran with the headline: “End of an era. The decline of a big boss – Ron Dennis scrapped by McLaren” while Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport stated: “Ron Dennis leaves McLaren – over after 35 years and 17 titles”.

In Britain, many of the national newspapers focused on Dennis’ autocratic position and micro-management style and cite that as the reason why he was finally forced to relinquish his role as McLaren boss, a motive he dismissed as “entirely spurious” in a press release that was distributed yesterday.

The Daily Telegraph: “The combative Dennis has clashed in recent weeks with Mumtalakat, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund that owns 50 per cent of McLaren, and with Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh, who controls 25 per cent.

Ron Dennis Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa CEO of the Bahrain Economic Development Board

“They are understood to have become uneasy at his micromanaging approach - Dennis likes, for instance, every room at the group's Woking headquarters to be set to his favourite temperature of 21 degrees.”

The Guardian: “In recent times, McLaren have struggled to recapture old glories and Dennis is no longer viewed as the man to revive their ailing spirit; in fact, the style that made this ruthlessly single-minded and most driven of men so successful is now viewed as something of a handicap when it comes to development. He was always more autocratic than collegiate.”

JAonF1 reader views

JAonF1 readers have a left a range of comments on the story confirming Dennis’ exit from McLaren. The majority express sadness or anger at seeing the man who transformed the racing team into a successful technology and automotive business being forced out, but many others point out that some of the company’s moves in recent years have failed to pay off.

XPB.cc Fernando Alonso Ron Dennis

MattW: “Terrible news, right when McLaren were starting to really make progress. McLaren is Ron Dennis and Ron Dennis is McLaren. I honestly see this as the start of McLaren going down the Williams route and slipping permanently into the midfield. Absolutely no respect for the greatest team manager of all time.”

Terry: “Without a doubt there should be a knighthood for RD. How many have built a company that has sales of £850m from a business that soaks up money; F1. If RD wants to do anything at 69 years old, a new venture is not the way forward, some mentoring, lecturing, support and promote young talented British engineers. Ron, you did a great job, it's time to move on.”

Owen: “While Ron's contribution is massive, the team has been on a downward slide for some time. I think his mishandling of Alonso during those acrimonious times in 2007, together with his failure to land a 'title' sponsor these past years due to overplaying his hand rank as major blunders. His less than courteous handling of people, and drivers such as Jenson Button and K-Mag also leave much to be desired. Time will still tell whether his gamble to go into partnership with Honda will prove to be inspired or will continue McLaren's slow slide downwards? I guess something had to give? Or, is this merely boardroom/business and not racing related?”

Ron Dennis

Dirk.diggler: “ I have always felt McLaren post Senna & Prost became too clinical and soulless. I get things move on but the road car side after the F1 came out felt too prioritised. McLaren are not Ferrari, thankfully, but they need to build their own future. Ron always seems to me like the classic dictator which in a diversified project does not seem to work, unlike Bernie in F1 who, like him or loathe him, seems to keep things going.”

McLaren Group statement

After than news broke that Dennis would be placed on gardening leave until his contract expires in January, the McLaren Group released its own statement hailing Dennis’ contribution and achievements with the team.

It states: “Over the past 35 years Ron’s contribution to the success of McLaren has been colossal. During his tenure the team won 17 World Championships and 158 Grands Prix, making him the most successful leader in Formula 1 history. Like the company’s founder, Bruce McLaren, Ron is and will always be one of the true greats of the sport.”

Jenson Button

The statement went on to explain that McLaren is now starting the process of replacing Dennis as CEO and that the company will be managed by an ‘Executive Committee” on a temporary basis.

“McLaren Technology Group is now in the process of seeking a new Chief Executive Officer,” the statement continues. “Until such an appointment has been made, the company will be run on an interim basis by an Executive Committee comprising the Group’s majority shareholders, in close collaboration with the Board of Directors and the senior management team, all of whom remain utterly committed to the company, its partners, its employees and its fans, and share a passionate determination to build on our many strengths towards future prosperity.”

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Do you agree think Ron Dennis should be leaving McLaren? Or do you feel he still is the best person for the job? Take the poll above and then leave your comments in the section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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