Ron Dennis and McLaren

Yesterday, finally, there were two press releases sent out regarding the situation at McLaren. The first, from Ron Dennis, announced that he was relinquishing his duties as chairman and CEO of the McLaren Technology Group. It was not a happy press release and made the point that he had “been required to stand down” and confirmed that the decision “to place him on gardening leave” had been taken by the majority shareholders. Dennis will remain on the boards of both MTG and McLaren Automotive and said that he will launch a new technology fund next year when his commitments to McLaren have been honoured. The statement said that Dennis was “disappointed” that the representatives had forced through the decision, “despite the strong warnings from the rest of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business”. Dennis said that the grounds stated were “entirely spurious” and argued that his management style was the same as it always had been and that he was the one who enabled McLaren to become “an automotive and technology group that has won 20 Formula One world championships and grown into an £850 million a year business. Throughout that time I have worked closely with a series of talented colleagues to keep McLaren at the cutting edge of technology, to whom I will always be extremely grateful.

“Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential. But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees. I will continue to use my significant shareholding in both companies and my seats on both boards to protect the interests and value of McLaren and help shape its future.”

Dennis’s statement was followed by a release from McLaren itself, saying that “as of this afternoon Ron Dennis no longer holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Technology Group (or its subsidiaries). However, he remains a shareholder and a director of McLaren Technology Group.

“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.

“McLaren Technology Group is now in the process of seeking a new Chief Executive Officer. 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.”

As a matter of reference, the bizarre difference between the two totals of World Championships in the above statements is explained by the fact that three of the 20 titles won by McLaren happened before Dennis took control (the Drivers’ titles in 1974 and 1976 and the Constructors’ title in 1974). This is not an important point, but when one looks at the list of titles, what clearly stands out is the fact that with the exception of Lewis Hamilton’s title in 2008, McLaren has won no championship since 1999, a period of 17 years. All of Ron’s success (apart from the Hamilton crown) was achieved in the 16 seasons between 1984 and 1999.

Dennis took over the team towards the end of 1980, when Marlboro promoted (one might say “insisted”) on the idea of a merger between the old McLaren Racing and Dennis’s Project Four. A new company, called McLaren International, was established with a variety of shareholders from both sides. They were all bought out by Dennis in the years that followed. By 1983 Dennis owned all the shares, but there was then a big change when Ron sold half the shareholding to TAG and its boss Mansour Ojjeh, who had funded the celebrated TAG-funded, Porsche-built turbo engines. Their partnership remained unchanged at 50-50 until the start of 2000 when Daimler AG (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) exercised an option it had been granted as part of an engine supply deal, dating back five years, and they purchased 40 percent of the team, with the two shareholders each parting with 20 percent. There was talk in 2006 that Daimler might increase its shareholding to 60 percent, but that did not happen and at the start of the following year, Mumtalakat, a new holding company set up by the government of Bahrain, bought half of the shares that were still owned by Dennis and Ojjeh. Thus, Daimler owned 40 percent, Mumtalakat 30 percent and Dennis and Ojjeh 15 percent each. However, Ojjeh and Mumtalakat had covenants to vote with Dennis, which meant that, in effect, he still had control of the company – and money in the bank.

Things changed, however, and in 2009 Brawn-Mercedes beat McLaren-Mercedes to the World Championship. Daimler decided that it would be best to leave McLaren and buy Brawn, in order to create its own factory team. The McLaren shareholders thus bought back the Daimler shares with Mumtalakat taking an extra 20 percent and Dennis and TAG each taking 10 percent. Thus, Mumtalakat owned 50 percent, but dispensed with the agreement to vote with Dennis. Dennis and TAG owned 25 percent apiece and continued to have an agreement to always vote together. There was a change, however, as the McLaren road car company was carefully separated from the racing team.

That year, Dennis stepped away from the racing team after the supposed Spygate scandals and he left the running of the McLaren Group to Martin Whitmarsh, while he concentrated on developing the road car business. This began to do well, but the racing team continued to struggle to win and at the start of 2014 Dennis convinced the McLaren board of directors to oust Whitmarsh, his chosen successor, and give full control back to Ron. He proposed that he would buy back control of the company and win again in F1. Whitmarsh was kicked out and others were brought in. The road car business has done well, but the racing team has been hamstrung by its difficult Honda engines. The dream of reviving the great years of McLaren-Honda remains a dream. In commercial terms, Dennis refused to budge from his rate card demands to sponsors and this resulted in several of the company’s long-term backers departing. Hugo Boss, Diageo and Exxon Mobil have all gone elsewhere because they don’t believe that a McLaren sponsorship is worth what Dennis believes it is worth. There was a chance that Apple might buy the entire McLaren business, back at the start of this year, but no deal was struck.

There was, in any case, a problem between Dennis and the other shareholders. In 2012 there was much debate as to whether the Grand Prix in Bahrain should go ahead because of unrest in the country. Obviously, Mumtalakat felt that the race should go ahead. Dennis was in favour of cancelling the race because he felt that it was best for F1 to avoid such situations. Ojjeh supported the argument that Bahrain should go ahead, but he had to vote with Dennis, as per their agreements. In truth, although the Bahrain GP hurt F1 in some respects, largely in relation to image, the political situation in the country did not warrant cancellation. And so, in a way, both sides were right. The problem was that a decision had to be made. As I understand it, the role of chairman at McLaren rotates between the shareholders and on this particular issue, Ojjeh was chairman. He was obligated to vote with Dennis but, in that particular meeting, he was chairman and had the right to cast the deciding vote. He did what he felt was right and voted against Dennis (and himself). Dennis took this as a betrayal and the relationship was broken. Ojjeh was a very sick man at the time and there are many confusing stories about what was going on, but the reality is that the problem came down to a matter of opinion over the Bahrain GP – and, in many ways, both sides were right. F1 probably should not have been there, but things were nowhere near as bad as they were portrayed.

In many ways, therefore, the current situation at McLaren is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. No-one is really to blame. It is a matter of opinion. The problem is that there seems to be no possibility of compromise, although to be fair the Bahrainis and TAG have given Dennis the chance to take back control and buy them out. But this has not happened. It is nearly three years now since Martin Whitmarsh was ousted and Dennis has been running the business and no answers have been found. Dennis wants to buy the company but the bid he has made is not sufficient, for whatever reason. The controlling partners want an amicable solution, but that does not suit Dennis.

And so we are where we are…

111 thoughts on “Ron Dennis and McLaren

  1. I have been waiting and hopeful you would be take a few minutes and detail the situation. There was no other outlet that seemed to be doing the story any justice, nor giving a fair treatment of the background.

    While waiting for a fair telling of the situation is frustrating, it was worth the wait. You filled in many details which a casual F1 but a rabid McLaren fan was hoping for.

    1. Tracy> I have been waiting and hopeful you would be take a few minutes and detail the situation.

      Same here! I was worried that some replies (albeit very informative ones) on the Notebook article were all we were going to get. Thank you so much for writing a fresh article to spell out all the details, Joe.

      I was trying to remember myself just how and when Ron lost equity and then control, in order to reply to someone on the Notebook article, but abandoned my post because I couldn’t remember and didn’t have time to do the research. Now I don’t need to.

      Thanks again Joe, insight and writing like this is exactly why I’ve followed you for so many years.

  2. Shame its comes to this. Ron seems to have put some good things in place in terms of drivers and personnel. He probably had to go with Honda because to win you need a factory engine and integration, and there was no one else out there. McLaren do seem to have a decent car, if you exclude the engine. One mistake he made is the corporate livery of the cars: McLaren should have and should still go orange, perhaps metallic orange!

  3. I wish Ron all the best in whatever he chooses to do in the future. He’s been betrayed before by those he trusted yet come back for more so let’s hope he’ll be around the sport for some time to come.

    I have a friend who was in sponsorship negotiations with Ron in the 90s – it got me two invitations to the F1 Paddock Club for British GPs – and he reckoned that Ron expected everyone to be true to his word. ‘Refreshing,’ is how he described the man. ‘But it is a significant weakness.’

    It is a weakness that many more should have.

    Thanks, Ron, for all the thrills and excitement.

    1. Sadly we must admit we have firmly entered into an age where being true to one’s word as well as the facts and reality have become the very anthesis to success leaving the likes of Mr Dennis et al behind in an ever consuming wake of suspended reality , lies as a positive personality trait , propaganda for profit and revisionist thinking . For which much of the blame must fall firmly upon the majority of the press , social media and a web more concerned with numbers than the long term consequences in their desperate pursuit of quantity over quality .

      But to end on at least a complimentary if not a positive note in this encroaching Dark Age we’ve embarked upon ; Thanks for the memories from me as well Mr Dennis . Though the present has been less than positive the memories of victories , characters [ Berger specifically ] the F1 road car and all places in between remains firmly entrenched within my memory . The one thing they cannot take away . Our memories .

      And a firm thank you to you as well Joe . For being the only one with the stones to post the details of Ron’s exit as well as express an honest opinion rather than going off half cocked or simply not saying anything at all

    2. Ron expected everyone to be true to his word yet at the same time this was only valid for himself as long as it suited him – at least this is what various first hand reports seem to portray. Seems hypocritical to me.

  4. Thank you for providing a very clear interesting explanation that no other sites seem to have provided. This is why I read this blog

    Kind regards

    Rob

  5. And Jo, many believe you should be hammering on the door in Wentworth offering to write the long awaited biography of surely the about to be anointed Sir Ronald Dennis. Unlike Ecclestone, Moseley and many others who have incorrectly acquired the tile; he IS a racer.

  6. Very sad. After taking back control of the F1 team he’s brought in good people (incl. PP from Red Bull for aero). He got a works engine deal, correctly, as you won’t win titles as a customer team. Another 12 months was deserved. But that has the potential to leave egg on the 75%’s faces… All the best for the future, Ron. McLaren will never be the same.

  7. It would be shame if Ron Dennis disappears from F1. He has way too much to offer. You could see over the years that he had F1’s interest at heart, sometimes over his own company.
    Joe can you see him making his way back to F1 in some form?

    1. I seem to recall reading that, as a callow youth one of Ron’s early jobs was the care and feeding of a field full of Moskvichs somewhere near Brooklands, which almost certainly would have turned his digits a funny colour.

  8. I think the most unusual thing about all of this is that they don’t have anyone in line to step into Ron’s shoes right now. It’s as if they’re flying down a highway at high speed, pulled off the steering wheel, threw it out the window and then look at each other and say “Okay. Now what do we do?”

    1. I doubt it. Ojjeh has been with the team almost as long as Dennis, always on par with Dennis when it comes to ownership. He has been pulling the strings when needed, only his choice seems to be to stay away from limelight.

  9. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I don’t expect Ron to let this go. He will come back to regain control of his companies.

    1. Well the problem is that it isn’t HIS company any longer. He sold sufficient shares to others and now needs to live with the consequences.

  10. How knowledgeable are the BBCs commentators for 5live ,namely Jack Nicholls and Mark Gallagher?. .
    I’m sure that during their Brazil FP2 radio commentary they mentioned that they had both heard a rumour that Peter Prodroumo wanted out of McLaren and a return to Red Bull.
    But I’ve yet to see it mentioned anywhere else.. Is it just pure BS ?…

  11. Joe,

    Im am curious as to your use of the word “supposed” when referring to the Spygate scandal. I realize that this is completely beside the point of the article but it leapt put of the screen to me and it left me wondering what it is that you are questioning about the incident, is it regarding it actually being the reason for Dennis’ exit at the time or that any spying actually took place?

    Regards,
    6WT

    1. Everyone was spying at the time. Some more than others, but only one team was punished. And it has never been proved publicly that everyone knew what was going on. The whole thing stank like Billingsgate.

      1. So what’s your take on this? Should McLaren not have been punished? Or should all of the spying teams have been punished?

        1. Well those who were caught should have been punished in the same way. The problem is that if those dominos had started to fall, everyone would have been up before the beak.

          1. Like 6WT i am acutely aware of how journalists apply adjectives in almost subliminal way convey opinion and that expression was the one that popped up like a Christmas tree in a forest in this whole text.

            Even more amazing is that the reasons that you give in the answer to 6WT does not make it “supposed”?

            I see that narrative manipulation continues.

      2. Two things always niggled at me about spygate: when asked about lack of proof/evidence (no data was actually found inside McLaren), MM, a lawyer by trade I believe, replied something along the lines of “this is not a court of law, we don’t need proof, suspicion is enough” and McLaren were then fined $100M. Shortly after, Renault were actually caught with McLaren data on their computers (with lots of proof), and they got off with nothing more than slapped wrist.

        I eagerly await the full story to brought into the sunshine….

        1. Having just also read Andrew Benson’s piece on the BBC site about Ron he says that Max Mosely was standing next to Ron while makine the fine announcement and said £10m is the fine and £90m is for being a ****.

          I really would love for the full story about spygate to come out I bet there is more than most people would even believe.

          1. Whenever I see that photo of Max and Ron shaking hands just after the announcement, I can’t help but think of the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album.

      3. Completely agree with this. It was a complete fit-up. Renault were caught doing something similar but were exonerated on a mealy-mouthed technicality. The most egregious and disproportionate fine in the history of sport.

    2. Brundle said at the time that the info McLaren was discussing he could have found out in 15 minutes wondering up and down the pit lane for every team. Coughlan had the whole set of plans, but no evidence it went any further than him.

      Allegedly: Renault on the other hand had the blueprints for McLaren’s car on their company servers, but just got a slap on the wrist instead of a $100 million dollar fine. When Bernie thought was a bit steep and asked Max why so high the response was: “Well, $5 million for the offence, and $95 million for Ron Dennis being a twat”.

  12. Great write up Joe as always, interesting you note spygate as supposed. I always felt mclaren got stuffed on that seeing as it wasn’t the whole team and in effect their gearbox plans were ripped off by another team shortly after with no recourse at all. Felt it was certain people settling scores…and mclaren suffered. A sad loss for most I would say but Ron allowed Mercedes to leave when I thought he had a vetoe and should have sold out to them sooner.

    Just watched the UK GP on sky and felt almost sad with all the sponsors and Lewis flying around in his mclaren that we mclaren fans should be here.

  13. A sad day! RD has always struck me as one of the more principled representatives of the pit lane.

    Time moves on though. Ron has had the appearance of someone railing against the dying light over the last few years (if that make sense). Mclaren have too often flattered to deceive. Too many false dawns.

    Like many of the old teams (Lotus, Williams, Tyrell etc.) Mclaren have been caught out by the evolution of the sport. The ‘one-stop-shops’ (Merc, Ferrari, Renault) have more ability to develop overall solutions. A seperate engine deal will get you 90% of the way there, but… Mclaren’s deal with Honda is best of the rest, but it’s a year behind. This time next year Mclaren may well be in a significantly better position, but you can’t help but feel Mercedes will pip them.

    In terms of his management – the bloke is 70! He could/should have set in place a succession. It’s like Bernie. For the organisation to be scouting around for a successor after the horse has bolted is an indictment. It should be obvious – if RD had fallen under a bus, it should have been business as usual.

    That, I suppose, cuts to the heart of it- RD was an individual in a team. All teams need the driving force, but when all is said and done, they need a resilience. Mclaren don’t have that and RD is responsible for that.

    BTW – Ferrari are in the same boat in many ways. As are Red Bull and most of the ‘minor teams’. The only one you could say has a ‘robust’ structure are the current world champions.

    1. Well, he did sort out a succession, to Whitmarsh. However, because of the Spygate stuff, that changeover happened sooner than Dennis planned, and Whitmarsh was in charge of the team during a very difficult period. difficult enough for Ron to watch from the sidelines and then want to (and be young enough to) regain control for a while, expending his own appointed successor. Without the spying stuff, Ron would probably be leaving around now anyway, and handing over to Whitmarsh…

  14. Joe, I agree with your comment in a previous post; Sir Ron…… the very least he deserves. In fact, come to think of it, I think he’s even better than that. The honours system’s been knackered for years and gongs often seem to be handed out for relatively minor things these days, certainly minor compared to what Ron helped build at McLaren, not overnight but over many years. He led a team of huge talent that dominated and lit up the sport for many years during its golden era. In comparison, the team now is a shadow of its former self and feels to me as though it’s going backwards. I’m convinced (and hope) that Ron will be back. He’s one of life’s winners and, although there will be many that will disagree with me, he’s almost certainly an inspiration to more than a few in. I for one will miss him if he doesn’t return in some form or another.

  15. I seem to recall Mercedes bailing soon after Ron nixed the idea of bringing Rosberg to McLaren. Mercedes found out their ownership percentage of the team meant they had no say, so picked up Bawn, brought in Rosberg and picked off plenty of talent from McLaren.

    I have no sympy for Dennis. He made a bed he now has to sleep in. As a matter of fact, C.J. Ramone’s words to Mr. C. M. Burns after singing “Happy Birthday” to him come to mind when I think about him.
    Best of luck to him in the future as he endeavors.to persevere.

  16. Great breakdown of the situation Joe, but I must ask – why was McLaren having an internal vote on whether the race should have gone ahead or not? Surely that was the business of the FIA or WMSC or whichever body decides these things rather than a single F1 team, even if they had sovereign Bahraini ownership?

    Or was this over the matter of how McLaren would vote if this matter was laid in front of the teams?

      1. Joe, any truth in another story that says Ojjeh and Dennis fell out because Dennis took opportunity to remove Whitmarsh, who was apparently Ojjeh’s man, while Ojjeh (Dennis’ equal partner at McLaren since 1983) was in hospital having lung transplant?

  17. Hopefully the team remains a contender for titles in the Future. Issues such as this end as major distractions to organisation’s goals.

  18. Ron has been an absolute genius at McLaren. He’s achieve so much.
    He’s also difficult to work with, (let’s face it, he’s a total pain in the arse) but when he winning it doesn’t matter.
    He had no sympathy for those he overrode, and I’m sure he isn’t whining now.

    Ron, you are great. Thankyou, good luck in your future endeavours.

  19. I’d love to see Ron go elsewhere. Even buy Manor. Perhaps it is time for Rondel F1 team!

    Although he will always be associated with McLaren, F1 will not be the same without him. Maybe a leadership role outside of any specific team?

  20. How much did Brawn winning the 2009 season with Mercedes power have to do with Mercedes buying Brawn? I imagine that McLaren launching a road car division with some competing products had something to do with it.

    Such a shame really about Ron. People don’t give him his due. He’s been hugely influential in shaping F1 to what it is today.

    1. What happened after the 2009 season was savagely ironic, since my understanding is that Brawn GP only raced in 2009 because McLaren agreed well after the end of the 2008 season that Mercedes could supply them with engines. McLaren, as the Mercedes factory team, had the power of assent or veto at the time on supplies to other teams.

      1. Rumour around 2005-06 was that Daimler Benz wanted buy the whole group, but that Ron, Mansour and the Mercedes Board couldn’t agree on a price.

    2. 1. Spygate and Mercedes being associated with it, never mind money that Mercedes forked out to pay the fine, which may or may not be true.
      2. Mercedes being the biggest shareholder at McLaren yet having no say in how the team is run, e.g. drivers choice.
      3. McLaren’s decision to go into car manufacturing under it’s own label thus becoming Mercedes’ competitor.
      Brawn winning the 2009 season was icing on the cake.

      1. … Toyota also having been designing the what-was-to-be-Brawn for 2 years before their board pulled the plug. It is the most expensive F1 car ever developed, Brawn knew how good the numbers were looking and he managed to buy it for a song. Right man in the right place at the right time.

        1. Toyota? I think you mean Honda. I don’t think it is right about the cost either. The double diffuser was found by Super Aguri aerodynamicist, I believe.

          1. The Brawn design was done by the Toyota team? Maybe “Spygate” ran deeper than anyone knew…

            Though Mike Coughlan did later work for another wannabe F1 team that tried to buy the Toyota F1 design.

          2. This is the most polite & complete demolition of a submission I’ve ever received. Deservedly so!

            Re: the cost, I remember it from an interview with Ross Brawn (early Sky F1 days). Although maybe he meant the most expensive car *Honda* had produced… Back to my box now!

  21. Thanks for this insight, Joe… and yes, I think we should start a petition to get both Ron and John Surtees knighted…

  22. I heard that McLaren is trying to get Zak Brown in replacing Dennis, apparently the new F1 management group is also trying to get Zak’s service. Could this be the reason why McLaren has to “let go” of Dennis at this time in order to allow them to present an official offer to Zak Brown, before F1 management snatches him up?

  23. I have often thought that Max Mosley knew what he was doing to any chance that Ron would ever get a knighthood when he fined Ron $100,000,000. for the Ferrarigate spy scandal. The people that hand these awards out don’t like such “tainted” images, in much the same way Bernie will never get one because of the Labour Party “bung”
    When you see Rod Stewart get a knighthood and both Ron and Bernie, who have both done far more for Britain in terms of bringing money to the UK economy, not honoured, it rather sums the system up.

  24. Sad to see him go for now. His attempt to buy them out could succeed in the future and he could be back.

    I guess the problem is that if you’re trying to buy a company out (and it is proving something of a struggle) managing the company as well is that it represents a severe potential conflict of interest.

    We saw the same when Bernie appeared to be trying to engineer a buyout of F1 recently, he started to talk the business down, let races drop from calendar etc. He even let a small war break out between him and the teams!

    Ron certainly hasn’t been openly rubbishing mclaren but the potential for conflict is pretty clear – in that a firm with success and a full compliment of sponsors will be more expensive to buy than one with neither.

  25. My tuppence worth on the origin of the argument is that Ron was the only person/entity being impartial in the argument over the race.

    Formula 1 should not be in these countries with highly questionable human rights. I always recall in 1985 the South African governments gratitude for the Formula 1 teams turning up and racing (less Ligier, Renault and on race day Alan Jones) was to hang 6 political prisoners before first practice started.

    No normal sport in an abnormal society.

    However another great, insightful article Joe.

  26. I wonder if RD potentially coming onto the job market might affect Liberty Media’s thinking regarding Bernie’s successor. Current thinking is reputed to be Ross Brawn and Zak Brown. Could that become Ron Dennis and Zak Brown, or Ron Dennis only, especially if as is rumored McLaren are trying to sign ZB as Ron’s replacement.

    1. I would be hard-pressed to think of a worse person for the Liberty Media role. RD was a great team leader, but F1 is not a team and requires a different kind of person. I don’t believe ZB will be Ron’s replacement. It is not his forte. I think he will be a terrific marketing boss for Formula One. The sporting role is more complex and a difficult role to fill.

      1. I totally agree. Zak has brought several sweet deals to McLaren and is a genius in that area. He remains a good friend of them, but really would be superb and hugely valuable in the role at Liberty.

  27. One wonders if Ron had been chairman at the time of Bahrain where we would be. If McLaren had pulled out of the race, would others have followed, would Bernie and Jean Todt’s grip have been weakened.

    Really interesting article though, thanks.

    1. My recollection of Bahrain boycott and Mclarens problem was Vodaphone the team sponsor who did not want there brand displayed at the GP hence they were supported by RD, the Bahrain Royal family were not impressed with Ron. they do own 50% of Mclaren that will not have helped the situation.

  28. Excellent write-up, and the story about the Bahrain GP was new to us – thus once again proving how valuable it is to have your proper journalistic work ‘on the ground’ rather than relying on the teams’ PR machines!

    One question: the press release states that Ron Dennis ‘no longer holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Technology Group (or its subsidiaries)’. Does this also encompass the car division too, or is it legally separate from the rest of the group?

  29. Hmmm. Ron Dennis….very complex person from what i’ve read/heard and seen of interviews with him.
    To be honest i never had much time for him after Mclaren changed so much from the team i liked from the 60’s until Project 4 took it over.
    Was he a great manager/team owner…..yeeees…but it’s heavily qualified in my personal opinion, and RonSpeak became out of its time, he should have left it in 1991 or 92….i never took to the corporate stuff.
    But he knew how to win, although it is clear that this is also an area where he has become lacking.
    I have always had a soft spot for Sir Frank, even though he has overturned a long held view of mine about his racer manner, by filling one Williams cockpit with dollar coins for next year…..however without Frank i’d feel even sadder about F1 than i usually do….without RD? Well, he’s got more cash than he can ever spend, i’m not going to wipe a tear away, and expect there are others who feel much the same.

      1. rmm & Supervox, well Mad Donald looked like a shot, and did win a race, but too mad in the end. There’s others out there but they don’t have the $ in maxi size.

    1. Damian,

      So, who do you think would have fit the bill better?

      With Bottas staying it makes sense to take the opportunity to bring in a rookie – so, of those who can obtain a Superlicence who would be better than Stroll?

      As Stroll himself said he can’t help coming from a wealthy family – should that be held against him?

  30. Ron has not always been as straightforward as some commentators seem to believe. He shook hands formally on a deal to use Lamborghini engines in 1994, then reneged and switched to Peugeot. Chrysler, which owned Lambo at the time, was absolutely incandescent.

      1. Well, technically, that decision wasn’t made by Ron. Did he influence it? Maybe…Dave Ryan has an interesting story around that too,

    1. Interesting, Canehan>, I didn’t know that. Given the disaster that was McLaren-Peugeot, one can only wonder how different things might have been had he gone with Chrysler/Lamborghini after all. Although who knows, it could have been even worse…

  31. I naturally accept your inside perspective, but it might be an interesting question to put to Martin Whitmarsh, should you happen to meet in an airport lounge in future…
    Thanks for doing what you do,
    Best, Tim.

    1. Well, he hasn’t been approached thus far. Who knows what might happen in the future though? He has around 5 or 6 months left on his Ainslie contract…

  32. Whilst the Bahrain GP thing might have caused a bit of tension I think it’s overstating it to say this caused a breakdown between the two, but certainly it contributed. The animosity between MO and RD is much deeper and personal and the reasons have been hinted at elsewhere in the last days.

    There is one person who really shouldn’t be in his position at McLaren whose responsibility it really is to secure a title sponsor and retain other sponsors. That person might be replaced by Zak Brown but I don’t see Zak for the ‘top’ job. Someone like Justin King might be considered.

    1. The Bahrain question was what caused the rift. If there were other problems later which contributed to the problem then this may be the case, but I don’t believe all the different stories I have heard, which is why I have not reported on them. It was Bahrain that kicked it all off.

  33. Hey Joe,
    Thanks for the excellent and free reportage. If you were Zac Brown which job would you take. The Maclaren job is pretty high profile but when compared to the position of supreme overlord/dead leader of F1…

  34. Thank you Joe, you have answered a lot of previously unanswered questions. Nige Roebuck appears to suggest that there was also something other than a business problem.

  35. I have always admired RD for what he has achieved but I often wonder at what cost. If he dispensed with Whitmarsh in the way you describe then I suppose this latest incident can best be described as karma.

  36. I have been addicted to F1 since my first GP in 1970 in a large part because of the characters , Team owners and managers even Flavio ,

    A press release from Toyota F1 always had less flavor to it than Williams or Mclaren or Jordan F1, As the Corporate teams grow and the likes of Ron Dennis vanish the drama will be politically correct and smoothed over , The result less emotion , Stay tuned.

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