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Ron Dennis still in post as McLaren F1 boss as shareholders circle wagons to remove him

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Ron Dennis still in post as McLaren F1 boss as shareholders circle wagons to remove him
Nov 12, 2016, 2:11 PM

The long running board room battle at McLaren appears to be entering its final act as Ron Dennis has failed in an 11th hour attempt in the High Cou...

The long running board room battle at McLaren appears to be entering its final act as Ron Dennis has failed in an 11th hour attempt in the High Court to prevent his fellow shareholders from suspending him until his contract expires in two months.

But sources close to the situation say that Dennis remains in post as Chairman and CEO of McLaren Group as of Saturday morning.

Ron Dennis

Dennis has tried various routes to get a buyer to back his ambitions to take overall control of McLaren, with Apple considering a bid and at the last minute Dennis brought a group of Chinese investors. But the other shareholders have rejected the move and an emergency board meeting was convened on Friday night at which Sky News was predicting that the shareholders would resolve to put him on gardening leave until his contract expires.

But as of Saturday morning Dennis was still in post.

Dennis returned to the helm of the McLaren Group, replacing Martin Whitmarsh, with a promise to find backers to buy the others out and take overall control. That money has not been forthcoming and despite extensions to the deadline, he found himself in a position where Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahraini Mumtalakat wealth fund want him out. They control 75% between them.

Bahrain F1

They apparently offered Dennis an opprtunity to step down in a dignified manner, but it seems that the old battler felt he had another battle in him.

There have been suggestions that F1's leading sponsor finder Zak Brown is a candidate to replace Dennis. The American has also been linked with a commercial role with Liberty Media alongside new F1 chairman Chase Carey once the US media group completes its buyout of F1 in the first quarter of 2017.

Brown was CEO of Chime Sports Marketing until last month and prior to that built up the JMI motorsports sponsorship agency.

James Allison

Meanwhile many in the F1 paddock in Brazil are also speculating about the possible involvement of top engineer James Allison in a post-Ron Dennis McLaren structure. Allison, who left Ferrari earlier this year after a fallout with chairman Sergio Marchionne, remains on 12 months gardening leave and has a strong history of working alongside McLaren sporting director Eric Boullier.

Allison rejected a move to McLaren at the same time as he took the Ferrari job, with the prevailing cuture at McLaren being one of his principal reasons. The opportunity to work alongside Boullier in a new culture might appeal to the former Lotus and Renault technical boss.

But the reality is that Boullier has quietly assembled the technical team he wanted and the introduction of a big character like Allison could destabilise that. It is therefore not likely that Allison will be heading to Woking any time soon.

He has recently rejected offers to go to Renault and to Williams. He would not fit at Red Bull, due to a clash of working methods, so Mercedes would appear the more likely route back into a top F1 team. Paddy Lowe is negotiating a new contract and this presents an opportunity all around.

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