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Dennis' career to end in disappointment?
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Dennis' career to end in disappointment?
Posted By:   |  15 Apr 2009   |  11:31 pm GMT  |  36 comments

According to Autosport website there is something cooking at McLaren, with the suggestion that former team principal Ron Dennis is to make some kind of an announcement about his future plans today (Thursday).

There are  suggestions he could step back completely from his involvement with the Formula 1 team. He already relinquished the team principal role to Martin Whitmarsh on March 1st, but has stayed involved with at least a finger or two on the tiller and was present at the Australian Grand Prix, where the team was found to have ‘deliberately misled’ the stewards after the race.

If it is the case that Dennis is removing himself from the racing team altogether, it is likely to be connected in some way with McLaren’s strategy for the April 29th FIA world council hearing at which the team is set to face charges of ” fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motorsport generally.”

It is often said that all political careers ultimately end in disappointment and the same is often true of other competitive animals, like sports figures and particularly racers. Dennis has had a stunningly successful career thanks to his relentless attention to detail and determination, but in the last few years he has repeatedly left himself and his organisation exposed, as they are now over the lying scandal in Melbourne. Partnerships like those with Mercedes and key sponsors are at stake.

A career like Dennis’ should have ended with a final world championship followed by a knighthood, but the spy scandal of 2007 can’t have helped that cause and any association with what went on in Melbourne would add to the damage. To quit now appears to be a sign that this mighty career is ending in disappointment.

The facts concerning what went on in Melbourne and Dennis’ part in it will be established on 29th April, but if Dennis is walking away it is either because he has been pushed or because he is taking control of the situation and positioning himself for what is to come, thereby protecting the team and its future.

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36 Comments
  1. ferra5 says:

    It’s hard to believe Dennis will step down from the F1 team so the FIA show some lienancy towards Mclaren, nobody realy knows who did what regarding the accusations, but that he needs to go on the back door it’s too much. If that’s true maybe he has been involved in some way and that, plus the outcome of the 2007 scandal maybe lead the board to ask him step down completely from the F1 team

  2. Steve Parker says:

    Ron announced his departure before the season started – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article3467604.ece (2nd March) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/4273221/Ron-Dennis-steps-down-as-McLaren-unveil-new-Formula-One-car.html (13th Feb).

    We have not seen anything of Ron this season, which is very sad; the things that have happened at McLaren so far this year have been totally uncharacteristic of the team that Ron has so ably led for so many years.

    Ron has always shone out as a torch of honesty in F1, an often brutally vicious sport, and I, for one, am missing him already. It is good to see new team leaders such as Ross Brawn, again a fiercly honest man, taking the mantle of team leadership.

    We, as supporters of F1, need to see that there are trustworthy people leading and participating in the sport – Ron, Ross, Jenson, Lewis (ahem?), Rubens and that it is not just the greed and short-sightedness of people like Bernie and Max, the Schumachers, Eddie Irvine and others giving it a bad name.

  3. jeremy says:

    so what is the WMSC to do with none of the suspected Mclaren personel to be present and relieved of their duties?

  4. HR says:

    Indeed it would a sad way for Ron Dennis to exit F1. No doubt we will have days more in China of ‘piling on’ all things McLaren. Now I have posted a few times on this, and whilst not excusing their silly actions in Melbourne I believe there is a serious case for the F1 media to show some maturity and balance on McLaren’s alleged crimes in context with some other teams.

    Let’s take Toyota as an example. They were excluded from the 1995 FIA Rally Championship and banned for 1996 for cheating. Some of the personnel who worked for Rally subsequently work on the F1 programme.

    In NASCAR Toyota’s Michael Waltrip was excluded and his car confiscated for fuel related violations post qualifying at the 2007 Daytona 500.

    Back in 2002 two Ferrari employees transferred data to Toyota and later Angelo Santini and Mauro Iacconi were indicted and later found guilty for these offences. The FIA never became involved despite the fact that there was a conviction in an independent court of law. And let’s not forget that in the 2009 Australian race Toyota was excluded from qualifying for running an illegal rear wing.

    See where I’m going with this. Some might say Toyota have a history of cheating in international motor sport, but hey who cares. Try and cheat against the entire field and it’s a slap on the wrist and go to the back of the grid for you. Of course all this is known by the specialist F1 journalists that cover F1.

    So why were McLaren treated so differently in their ‘spying’ case, and why is everything involving them treated so seriously, and why don’t the F1 media ask more questions about these double standards?

    Now James says he doesn’t believe in the FIA conspiracy theories against McLaren and he is right. Conspiracy happens behind closed doors but Max Mosley’s antipathy concerning Ron Dennis has been in plain sight for all to see for over a decade. (I could detail all that, but it would take s separate article). Again, this is common knowledge by all those who have been covering F1 for a while.

    Perhaps Ron Dennis is not the only one who should step away from F1.

  5. Vaggo says:

    It’s a shame to see these Team principals take a beating from the FIA, constantly. They are as much celebrities and ambassadors of the sport as the drivers are, and as such should be used by F1 to promote the sport. Just look at Jack Roush, Hendrick, and Joe Gibbs in Nascar, they are names that are just as big as the drivers. F1 should start showing a little more respect to these team principals who have devoted their whole life to the F1 cause. The sport wasn’t built to it today’s level solely on Bernie. It’s time for F1 to look across the pond for some guidance.

  6. Thomas in Adelaide says:

    Well, while we are speculating, who’s to say he’s not returning to his role of last year to steady the ship?

  7. Boston F1 Fan says:

    - Forgive my ignorance but I don’t understand why he would step down. As far as I know, he had no role in the recent events. Is it possible that he had some type of involvement in the Trulli-debacle that would come to light if he was summoned to a hearing?

  8. Liam says:

    >The facts concerning what went on in Melbourne and Dennis’ >part in it will be established on 29th April, but if Dennis is >walking away it is either because he has been pushed or >because he is taking control of the situation and positioning >himself for what is to come, thereby protecting the team and >its future.

    I think it’s going to be the latter, the FIA (aka mad Max) are finally going what they want, Dennis out of the F1 picture. I don’t see it as that damaging for Dennis, he brought back the drivers championship after 10 years, stepped down (or was it sideways), and is now taking one for the team. McLaren have probably realised that the sacking of Ryans wasn’t enough, Whitmarsh seemed in on it also (as a fellow blogger of this site rightly mentioned ;) ), sacking Whitmarsh would be more damaging to McLaren than removing Dennis, he’s Dennis’ protégé, and it would destabalise the team a lot more, and with a car like they have and a not so happy F1 champion driving it, it’s best not make the situation worse.

    Seems like there are a lot of back door meetings going before the trial, lets hope this is enough to please the FIA, give McLaren another fine and shame Dennis and lets start racing again!

  9. rpaco says:

    Up early to try and catch practice on BBC website but there is no sign of it. Not being repeated on Freeview 301 either, they are showing old races instead.

    It does not make sense if Ron leaves in order to remove some FIA heat from the team. That would say openly that the FIA were persecuting him personally. Still maybe that’s the point he wants to make.

    I rather hope that it’s the opposite and Ron is coming back, with Martin sacrificed on the alter of FIA appeasement, the blood of only one manager being so far insufficient.

  10. Richard Williams says:

    Anthony Hamilton has played off Dennis and Mosley perfectly. He has got his way and had Dennis removed (I can hardly believe I’m writing this) but he and Lewis might remember that they are now well and truly in Mosley’s pocket and that is a very dangerous place to be.

    I am deeply uncomfortable that Lewis Hamilton has become so powerful in F1 that the Mosley and Ecclestone will fight to let him have his bidding.

    We have another Schumacher on our hands

  11. MartinWR says:

    Agreed, in the main, but LH another Schumacher? I don’t think so! Of course you could still argue that while LH is a driver manufactured by Dennis (at the cost of an estimated six million), Schumacher’s ability also was flattered more than anyone can tell by his seven year association with Ross Brawn.

    Anyway, at this rate and after the elimination of Dave Ryan as well, it could become a case of: “Will the last one out turn off the lights, please”.

  12. Tim G says:

    I think the statement that Ron and Anthony Hamilton are best buddies maybe a little wide of the mark. The impression I’ve got over the last couple of years (admittedly, its media speculation but since I’m just a fan and not an employee of McLaren that’s all I have!) is that the close relationship is between Hamilton Sr and Whitmarsh.

    I can’t quite believe that the Hamiltons are directing events for their own benefit to quite the extent referred to. Well, I sincerely hope its not the case. There is obviously a systemic problem in some decision making processes that enabled such a grevious deception to be made by Ryan, hamilton et al in front of the Stewards. However, the far, far worse crime was to perpetuate the crime at the 2nd meeting in KL when they were confronted with the lie, and continued to deny the deception.

    Its difficult to predict what exactly will happen. I think McLaren are frantically trying to position themselves for whatever punishment is coming their way. My guess is a race ban of a number of races, which is pretty harsh on Kovalainen actually…

    It is shame for Ron personally that things will end this way. But isn’t there a famous quote to a new team owner: “Welcome to the Piranha club…”

  13. Mattw says:

    Dennis has been working for years on his legacy at McLaren – he did not take the easy way out when the spying scandle blew, but stayed on and finally delivered the championship after so many years of comming so close.

    Could it be that with Martin in hot water, Dennis is in no mood to be recalled back to the team leader role, and is simply taking his opportunity to bow out gracefully now – in case Martin does loose his job?

  14. David Hodge says:

    I suppose there might be an opposite angle to all this in that Martin Whitmarsh is being shuffled somewhere else and Ron is coming back as Team Principal. Whilst that would be one in the eye for Max Mosley and his (to me anyway) obvious personal vendetta against Ron, I somehow feel it is actually Ron falling on his sword. So Max has won – got his way. The toff has managed to take the Essex boy out of the picture. Class has won out. What an indictment on Britain, let alone F1.

    And changing subject a little, thanks for the blog James. This is the first (and mostly the only) place to go for the news. Or would you be offended if I called your work reportage? I think you give us more than news articles or press releases rehashed. Folks – don’t forget to click on James’ google ads so he gets some pennies for the clicks. Given the traffic this site gets, I would imagine the hosting costs are eye-watering (and if James had that money to use elsewhere, he could develop a double diffuser for his road car!)

  15. Facchetti says:

    Today’s piece in the Sun (F1 Chief is Ron out of Town) seems a sad legacy indeed after 40 years in racing … but the last few years of crazy bitterness at McLaren feel like they could have been scripted by the likes of David Chase (The Sopranos) and Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It).

    So if we were to cast for such a film, firstly what would you call it and then who would you have and in what role?

    My own picks so far would be James Gandolfini as “the Ron” with Ricky Gervais as an Ecclestone-type figure and Terence Stamp as my “Sir Max” … but I just can’t find my Hamilton and Alonso. Any ideas?

    PS: the Sun piece is here – http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/motorsport/article2379042.ece

  16. Ben G says:

    Great shame about Ron, if the rumours are true. It represents a victory for the jealous little people who always snipe at major achievers.

    Ron is long overdue his knighthood, and I shall miss his forthright presence at GPs. The man is a legend.

  17. Paul Heathcote says:

    Does anyone else see a parallel between the Lewis / Trullli lie business and the Labour McBride / Draper email smear stories?

    Both organisations are claiming that the problems were all due to one man (Ryan / McBride) when more and more evidence seems to suggest that the decisions taken were made by several (top) people and that they have chosen one fall guy to carry the can.

    Interesting to see the stories develop, the truth will out in the end.

  18. Ashers says:

    Well, Ron can kick back and count his world championships and GP wins. Max can remember that March car that won a few things so long as it wasn’t in the hands of the works team…

  19. Graeme says:

    Reuters and The Press Association are now reporting that Ron has stepped down as CEO of McLaren racing, passing all responsibility to Whitmarsh.

  20. Nash says:

    I think that Ron Dennis has figured that his position and sphere towards the F1 team is hurting the team more and more… especially in the aftermath of spygate and now liegate..

    He realizes too that Mclaren F1 has changed from being run only by his words by now having to consult the big stakeholder Mercedes which has invested a lot for little return. Especially with Brawn GP success and Mclaren’s bad start, the risk of losing Mercedes is there… and there is no point for him to impose his will on the team’s future.

    At 61 he can walk away from Mclaren in honour, he achieved a tremendous amount as team manager. He is human too, despite the spotfree floors of the mclaren garages and the mask of being the most technological advanced team in the paddock…

    Spy and liegate have shown him to be human where his passion for winning got in the way of doing the right thing. His outburst at victory in Monza in 2007 told you a lot about how in fact a very emotional man he is. In his personal life he has also had setbacks, a divorce etc. The last 3 years must have been quite a journey for him..

    If he leaves today from Mclaren F1, he is doing the right thing for a team that he build an put together, and that has been always at the front of the grid. That in itself is a tremendous achievement.

  21. George says:

    I feel most for Martin Whitmarsh right now, he’s been promoted to the top of the tower but they’re taking the foundations away.

  22. Nigel Smith says:

    Who at Mclaren decided that it was worth the
    risk of lying to get a podium at Aus
    for 1 extra point?

    Surely LH talked to Anthony before going
    to see the stewards, if not the first time,
    then surely on the second ocassion. What advice did
    he give his son?

    Will McLaren’s cover-up continue at the FIA inquiry?

    As LH’s manager, Anthony needs to take some
    responsibility for his son.

    I would recommend that LH get a new manager ASAP.

  23. rpaco says:

    Richard W: Anthony Hamilton has played off Dennis and Mosley perfectly. He has got his way and had Dennis removed (I can hardly believe I’m writing this)

    No I don’t think we can either! Please expand your Anthony Hamilton reasoning, it sounds completely cockeyed. Surely Uncle Ron has been Lewis and Anthony’s best friend for years.

    Where is you info coming from?

  24. HR says:

    Is that THE Richard Williams?

  25. Stevie P says:

    “I am deeply uncomfortable that Lewis Hamilton has become so powerful in F1 that Mosley and Ecclestone will fight to let him have his bidding.”

    Richard, I don’t think Hamilton is “powerful” per se. But I think I understand where you are coming from…

    I think both Max and Bernie (and Ron & Macca for that matter) realise how much of a draw he is.

    As a consequence, he’s brought in a whole new group of F1 fans (and not just from the UK)… and Max et al realise this. They won’t want to lose Hamilton from F1… yet… as they’re only shooting themselves in the foot, if they do.

    Alonso brought F1 to Spain (big MotoGP following in Spain traditionally). Yes there have been other Spanish drivers but none as succesful and yes Alonso has fans all over the world… but we now have 2 GP’s based in Spain, as a result of a new Spanish audience.

    I don’t feel we’ll have 2 GP’s in the UK, due to Hamilton (shame!) but I do think that his global brand \ image (call it what you will) would be sorely missed by Bernie et al.

    And he’d be missed by the bulk of F1 fans… as despite what you may think of Hamilton… he does add to “the show”.

  26. ginnerchris says:

    I think that’ll be because you’re 24 hours early!

  27. Finn says:

    It is only Thursday – you’re a day early for practice:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/7755219.stm

  28. Stevie P says:

    rpaco… with respect… it’s Thursday, not Friday :-)

    Mr Allen – good work with this site\blog, been following it all winter and into the season. I like the fact you are prepared to voice your opinion on issues, rather than just posting the “facts”, it gives us scope for and leads us into respectful debate… whereas other forums seem to be full of immature name calling etc, etc.

    As for Macca and “cheating” – name one team that hasn’t tried it on by pushing the boundaries? I can’t and I’ve been following F1 since the late seventies, as a child.

    My feelings re: lie-gate, are that Ryan “forgot” that radio comms are completely open this season. Previously, they may have been able to get away with this fabrication, as radio comms weren’t open(?). [Disclaimer: I may have this wrong though... have all radio comms been accesible to the FIA \ Stewards in past seasons? I seem to recall Macca's comms only coming on-line after they'd crossed the finishing line.]

    As for Ron… go man, you’ve done your thing and had your time.

    The past few seasons have been fantastic; starting from the Schumi vs Alonso battles.

    Prior to that it had become a tad staid, in my humble opinion – ironically I loved Schumi when he first arrived, however over time and seeing his antics I became less of an admirer – however you cannot take away his achievements.

    Peace to all and China’s almost here… wooo hoooo!!! :-)

  29. AdrianJ says:

    Isn’t that because practice is on the Friday and it’s only Thursday today??

  30. James Allen says:

    JA writes: Stevie P, thanks for that. I have deliberately set the site up that way. I can add value by looking at the stories behind the news and then encourage people to discuss the sport openly, but as you say with none of the one-eyed name calling from people who have no idea what they are talking about. I’ve been on the wrong end of that over the years and although it hasn’t affected me as much as the trolls would like to think, I won’t have any of that here. This is simply a space for anyone who is interested in the sport and would like to know more about it, how it works and what the people in the headlines are really like. Thanks for your support.

  31. Paul_W says:

    Cracking blog, was never a fan of your commentary(but did like what you put in print), but this is my preferred F1 website now. The insight and different slant on things is absolutely superb.

    Curing the whole lie-gate affair this site has stayed bang up to date and real F1 fans get to have a say. What more can one ask for?!

  32. rpaco says:

    Thanks to Stevie for confirming that it is scrutineering day not practice day. My great age also induces dyslexia of the fingers often leaving out letters or typing different ones to those my brain was attempting, grammar is of course art of the window innit.

    Thanks also to Moog for the link to that piece with the photo, which was I felt worthy of a caption competition, my contribution would be “Max on the Tannoy”.

    I think it will be a sad day if Uncle Ron leaves F1, the end of an era in a sport which now looks like it’s heyday is in the past. The original concepts of F1 have most definitely now been abolished.

  33. Graeme says:

    The Daily Telegraph are also making an Anthony Hamilton connection. From today’s paper:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/mclaren/5160542/Ron-Dennis-to-cut-ties-with-McLaren-F1.html

  34. Charlie says:

    Alonso – Benicio del Toro (Rosso – lawks!)
    Hamilton – Noel Clarke

    easy!

  35. Phil says:

    There are many better sources than The Sun. I just can’t take you seriously if you use that as a source

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