Ron Dennis steps down as McLaren CEO
16 April, 2009
It has been rumoured that McLaren supremo Ron Dennis’ further step away from the sport is in reaction to the ‘lie-gate’ affair, as part of a possible deal with the FIA. “I admit I’m not always easy to get on with. I admit I’ve always fought hard for McLaren in formula one,” he said at the team’s Woking factory. “I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision,” Dennis insisted.
He was fronting a press conference to announce the restructuring of the McLaren Group, with the road car group to now become an independent company with Dennis in charge.
Dennis hinted that he will be happy to attend far fewer grands prix from now on, after watching the recent Malaysian grand prix on TV. “I’d expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years,” he said.
Dennis said he has “no qualms” about leaving Whitmarsh alone to handle “matters connected with formula one”.
Dennis’ long relationship with FIA president Max Mosley has been an acrimonious one, so his departure may appease the Paris body as it considers sanctions against McLaren for lying to stewards in Australia and Malaysia.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Dennis may have made the decision, including not flying to China this weekend, “due to pressure” from Hamilton’s father and manager Anthony, who is said to be furious about his son’s implication in the lying scandal.
It is said that Dennis, whose relationship with Anthony has been strained for some time, may no longer attend any races. It is also reported that Hamilton, 24, will not be available for normal media interviews or appearances in the Shanghai paddock on Thursday or Friday. The Daily Mail suggested the move could put the reigning world champion “in breach of the regulations”.
McLaren restructures Group to create independent McLaren Automotive company
At a press conference held this morning at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey (UK), McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis announced a major restructuring of the McLaren Group.
McLaren has for more than two years been engaged in a programme to develop a range of pure McLaren sports cars that will build on the great successes of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. As part of this plan, it is intended that McLaren Automotive, currently one of a number of companies within the McLaren Group, will become an independent company later this year. The launch date for the first model in the new range of McLaren sports cars will be in 2011.
McLaren Automotive is intending to raise fresh equity in addition to the existing investment in the business to complete the development of the planned vehicle programmes. It has appointed Credit Suisse as its financial advisor, to facilitate this process.
Ron Dennis said: “With planned additional investment in the company of ?250 million, proposals in place for a new McLaren car production facility in the UK, and the potential for up to 800 skilled jobs, McLaren Automotive’s expansion will represent a significant investment in the UK automotive industry.”
A number of organisational changes have also been announced today, which are designed to facilitate the next stage of McLaren’s corporate development:
- As Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, Ron Dennis will lead the growth of the new sports car business. As of today, Ron Dennis has handed his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
- On June 1st 2009 Richard Lapthorne will be appointed Non Executive Chairman of the McLaren Group and a Non Executive Director of McLaren Automotive.
Richard Lapthorne said: “This is a very exciting time to be joining the McLaren Group and to be working closely with Ron and his team on McLaren Automotive’s expansion into the sports car market. It’s a rare opportunity to be involved at a key stage in the development of a British sports car company of an entirely new sort, especially one that has such a great racing pedigree and such a world-class reputation as McLaren.”
Reflecting on his life in Formula 1, Ron Dennis concluded by saying: “I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was “yes”. I duly attended it – albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.
“The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK – an activity I found surprisingly easy. I’d expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.
“I admit I’m not always easy to get on with. I admit I’ve always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
“Equally, I was the architect of today’s restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
“I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1.”