The future of McLaren’s team principal Martin Whitmarsh is in question tonight after former team boss Ron Dennis retook control of the company as CEO, promising changes to make the team win again.
In a statement issued by the team this evening Dennis said that he would conduct a thorough review of track activity, after McLaren last year registered its worst performance since 1980 with not a single podium finish.
At the end of last year Dennis and Whitmarsh were engaged in a struggle for power, but a shift in shareholder sentiment seems to have swung things back Dennis’ way.
The news follows the transfer of responsibility for Mansour Ojjeh’s shares and his seat on the board to his younger brother in recent days. Mansour has been ill with cancer.
At the end of last year it appeared that the majority shareholder the Bahraini investment vehicle Mumtalakat, sided with Whitmarsh as did Ojjeh, but Dennis has clearly engineered a change in sentiment.
The question will now be, who will Dennis hire to replace Whitmarsh, given that he is unlikely to want to run the team himself on a day to day basis? One candidate currently sitting on the sidelines is Ross Brawn. The Englishman has moved on from Mercedes and he has good connections with Honda, McLaren’s engine partner from 2015 onwards.
The news makes it unlikely that there will be a place for Fernando Alonso at the team, as had been mooted last year. He and Dennis fell out spectacularly in 2007.
Dennis said in the statement tonight, “My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance.
“Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.”