The recent stories speculating that Ron Dennis was set to be fired from McLaren by the company's major shareholder Mercedes, unsurprisingly have turned out to be false. Both Mercedes and the Mclaren team were quick to rubbish the allegations which...
The recent stories speculating that Ron Dennis was set to be fired from McLaren by the company's major shareholder Mercedes, unsurprisingly have turned out to be false. Both Mercedes and the Mclaren team were quick to rubbish the allegations which spread like wildfire across the internet.
Last week's story in the Spanish 'Marca' newspaper sparked off a host of articles in the media reporting that Dennis was to be sacked from the McLaren F1 company.
The rumour quickly denied by Mercedes would have certainly angered many of Dennis' supporters and damaged the support for both companies which was clearly not in any ones best interests.
Mercedes motorsport chief, Norbert Haug, told the Bild daily. "I have been working with Ron for 14 years, and in that period, only one of all other teams has been more successful. Ron has made a huge contribution as a team leader. Everything else is speculation which has not originated from our side."
Martin Whitmarsh, the Formula One team's chief executive and second in command has spoken out about the affair. In an article in the UK's Guardian Newspaper he is quoted as saying: "Ron is fully supported by all our shareholders, all our managers and all who work for our team's company
"He continues to fulfill the role of chairman of the McLaren Group, chief executive of the McLaren Group, and team principal of the Formula One operation. It therefore follows that it is for Ron to decide when and if to step down, step away, step back or whatever."
In the same article it is claimed another senior McLaren insider reiterated the message stating: "What the critics don't seem to understand is that Ron can't just be fired. He is not a simple employee. He is a shareholder in the company and enjoys the complete confident support of all our investors, Mansour Ojjeh, Mercedes-Benz and the Bahrain government.
"He has been under a lot of pressure recently but he is in fine form and raring to go. There are a lot of exciting projects on the go and not just on the Formula One front."
However, even with the assuring comments, speculation continues in the media that Dennis will continue to hand over power to senior managers, something that has been part of the company strategy for a number of years.
Whitmarsh himself is in no hurry to oust the popular McLaren boss however and was keen to point out that he will play no active role in the issue, telling The Guardian:
"There's no pressure either on me or from me. I have been at McLaren for 19 years and am incredibly patient. Nor do I intend to be the Judas who knifed Ron in the back,"
Whitmarsh, who has been at Mclaren since 1989 does not close the door fully on the possibility of Dennis stepping down as he commented, "You must understand this is all speculation. I certainly think we need to stem the tide of the 'Ron has had it' coverage which we have seen in some sections of the media recently. It's entirely - and I emphasize entirely - his decision if he decides he will have a change of role."
The real fear now is that if Dennis does take more of a back seat this year, without his masterful control at the helm, McLaren will not be able to achieve the expected results and rob us all of what is shaping up to be an epic season.
The teams star driver and 2007 championship runner-up, Lewis Hamilton is confident that this will not be the case, speaking to German news magazine Focus he insisted, "If Ron wants to go, then he will go. My relationship with Mercedes-Benz is absolutely as strong as my relationship with McLaren. On this issue, I am quite relaxed,"
Fellow team boss Sir Frank Williams in an interview with the UK newspaper the daily mail discussed the difficulties at McLaren by simply stating: "Ron seems to have been submerged, sadly."
While the speculation continues to come forward at a rapid pace, at this point there has been no official announcement from either McLaren-Mercedes or Dennis personally to confirm that he will be stepping down from his role as team principal at McLaren F1 or CEO of the McLaren Group.
Indeed the reports that he will be stepping aside in the next few days is seemingly contradicted by a un-named source said to be close to Dennis. Speaking to the Times Newspaper in an article on Friday the 29th March, the papers source comments: "There has been a lot of talk of Ron missing the race in Melbourne and then resigning from McLaren. He will be in Melbourne (on 16th March), but may be late due to a number of other commitments.
"But there is no question of him being under pressure from anybody to throw in the towel. He sees this season as a big opportunity to put McLaren back on track and repair some of the damage of last season. He is as determined and focused as ever."
However in the Times Newspaper on Sunday (2nd March) other un-named sources, also reported to be close to Dennis, made it clear that he (Dennis) is determined to achieve a better balance between his family life, and spend more time with his three children.
Only Dennis can decide his own future. Rumours and speculation only add fuel to the fire and it is no wonder he has remained quiet.
One thing is for sure, the man who has been at the helm of the team he has run for the last 28 years will ultimately decide his own level of involvement this year. If he decides to step down, he will surely be greatly missed by McLaren and the sport in general.