Ron Dennis launched the new McLaren roadcar the MP4/12 today and said that he had “moved on from F1”.
Dennis’s career in F1 was full of success punctuated by some short bouts of uncompetitiveness, like the 1994-1997 period. But there is no doubt that he is one of the great team owners of the sport’s history.
Now 62, he stood down from involvement in the F1 team this time last year after the scandal in Melbourne where Lewis Hamilton and McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan were found to have lied to the race stewards. Following on from the spy scandal of 2007, it was considered in the best interests of the team for Dennis to stand down.
“I was full of expectation in Australia last year that I would go and get some sort of withdrawal,” he said today. “But I don’t have to watch every minute of a grand prix even when I’m not there. It’s part of my life and it’s not gone but I’ve moved on to bigger challenges.”
He plans to leverage McLaren’s position within F1 to sell road going sports cars in the £150,000 bracket. It is a highly competitive sector with Ferrari well established and Mercedes pushing into the sector with the SLS, as promoted by Michael Schumacher.
Dennis was in Bahrain last weekend and has been speaking to potential Middle Eastern investors in the McLaren company. He is planning to sell around 4,000 cars a year, around two thirds of Ferrari’s current production. Although sales of these cars dropped off in the recession, McLaren believes that demand will grow strongly and said today they will not be taking market share away from Ferrari.
The car was unveiled today by Hamilton and Jenson Button.
The MP4/12 car was also partially responsible for the collapse of the relationship between McLaren and Mercedes, as the objectives of the two companies were “not aligned” according to Mercedes.
It is powered by a engine built for McLaren by Ricardo.