Dennis demands loyalty from his staff – “You cut yourself, you bleed McLaren”
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Feb 2013   |  3:57 pm GMT  |  206 comments

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has spoken out about the importance of loyalty in the wake of the departure of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes and the ongoing discussions with technical director Paddy Lowe over his mooted move the same way.

Speaking to the Financial Times’ Roger Blitz, Dennis said that loyalty has always been a first order priority in his organisation,

“You cut yourself, you bleed McLaren,” he said. “We’re about winning, we care about how we win . . . We want to win with the right principles, the right values. If people don’t want to be part of that and want to go and do different things, then fine.”

Lowe had been in discussions with Toto Wolff about a move to Williams, until the Austrian accepted a role as Director of Mercedes motorsport last month. Lowe has discussed a move to Mercedes with the key players there, as confirmed by Ross Brawn recently.

Speaking at the launch of the new McLaren F1 car last week, Martin Whitmarsh said, “One certainty is that Paddy will be part of the team for another year. It’s less certain beyond that. That is something that we will have some certainty on in the near future.”

Lowe’s contract is believed to run to the end of 2013. If he is to leave, he will not be part of McLaren’s 2014 planning and will probably be forced to go on gardening leave well ahead of 2014; this will hurt his knowledge of the 2014 technologies.

But Dennis added a reference to this in his FT interview about employees thinking that the “grass is greener” at another team,

“If they get the hosepipe and the lawnmower out, they can easily contribute to making the grass greener their side of the fence,” he said.

Dennis added that he has “moved on” from Formula 1, having handed the team management to Whitmarsh in 2009 and dedicated himself to the automotive group.

The FT reports that the McLaren Group made pre-tax profits of £19.7m in 2011, up from £12.1m the previous year.

Turnover for the whole group increased from £201.7m to £239.1m.

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I have a lot of respect for the way in which Ron Dennis turned what was basically a failing team that was on its way out of F1 into a powerhouse in the 1980s.

Unfortunately, I think he completely lost the plot around the time that Paragon was planned. For someone who wants to be a control freak it is incredible that he then managed to preside over a situation in which all of his chief engineers (all of them, not just Coughlan) had access to Ferrari’s 2007 car under his own nose and then tried to “contain” it with a cack handed effort to pull the wool over the FIA’s eyes.

If I recall correctly, Mosley stated that although it happened to be the Alonso/de la Rosa emails that were used to convict the team, they could have used all manner of other emails and texts that they had also uncovered between the senior technical staff throughout McLaren, including Ron Dennis himself. Afterward, the team basically engaged in a mobbing action against Alonso that was clearly sanctioned from the highest level. I’ve never had much respect for Ron Dennis ever since, quite frankly. And in losing Alonso they lost their best chance to sustain themselves as a top team over the subsequent period. What have they got now? With the best will in the world, Button is not on the Alonso or Hamilton level. And signing Perez when they could have had Hulkenburg is just stupid.


Look, any small company needs a strong leader, and Ron is good at that, and will feel personally about the place. But employees are fools if they think the same way.

It’s all too common for the boss to retire and sell the company to some distant conglomerate who don’t have the vision to succeed. Ask Lotus, and TVR staff how their long term loyalty has been rewarded.

McLaren profits have been reported as £20m on a turnover of £240m. That being so, they couldn’t afford to pay Lewis Hamilton his market value. Simple enough.

But there are other employers out there who could. Red Bull, FIAT/Ferrari and Mercedes are all mass marketeers and make pots of money, so all are easily able to pay top rates if it suits them.

And for one company, Mercedes, the imperative was there. McLaren couldn’t compete with their finances knowing that they will have to start paying for engines from 2014.

Don’t cry for Ron, he has now got a driver in Perez who is well within budget, so can get back to building his road cars.



On a side note, how much pressure do you think Nico Rosberg, he has never had someone to really compare against in his F1 career, and now he has a acid test?


Rosberg must have had massive pressure when he was first partnered with Schumacher, but he handled that fine and he got the results for the team.

He knows Lewis, they’ve been team mates before (albeit years ago), so at the very least he’s a known quantity.

I’ll think he’ll do fine, but if worst comes to worst he’ll always be the guy who got them their first win as Mercedes.


Yes, pressure to deliver, but at same time, the pressure would be greater if he had an inferior team mate and it was down to him to get the results.


I wonder how Ron denis despite his trumpeting about equal treatment etc keeps losing drivers of the calibre of Montoya,Kimi,Alonso and now his little boy Lewis ?


Not knowing much about Paddy Lowe, how significant a move is it?


Paddy Lowe is McLarens technical director. Thats how important it is.

It has the potential to wreck their in-season and 2014 development, while leaking every last one of McLarens technioal tricks to Merc.


Yes – Almost legalised “syping” to coin a much exaggerated phrase in F1 when you can acquire knowledge from another team by poaching their home grown talent.

I guess Max Moseley would not see a problem with this unless of course it was McLaren!!


I remember Witmarsh said he asked Hamilton if there was anything Mclaren could’ve done to stop him from signing with Mercedes. A couple of weeks ago I heard Dennis saying Mclaren could’ve stopped Hamilton but they chose not to. Now Ron says loyalty is his game.

Ron has achieved a lot more than all the top F1 guys if you consider his fantastic technology centre and his development of fantastic cars to a fantastic high volume production facility. But I think he could further increase his profile by not making such comments and staying out of the business altogether. Just find the best people to do the best job for him. He can still attend races but stay away from microphones….after all his comments simply belittle him.


Well said.

If I’m doing a good job with my work, I’d expect my employer to reward me as well, rather than downsize my pay check and ask for loyalty. Totally absurd!


absolutely, i think most rewards in f1 are performance related anyway. i think the problem at mclaren is the balance between dictatorship and democracy. the owners should let the employees know what they should do and what the limits of their creativity are.


Of they tuned over 230million, then 150 of that went on the F1 team, that don’t leave that much considering they supply ECU units to several racing series’ and have that MP4-12C thing going on too. That doesn’t sound right to me not for turn over?


I hated Ron for sooo many years for letting Senna leave. And still rooted for McLaren and Senna in 1994. I’d never buy a Ford or Peugeot.

And even though I don’t believe he’s actually bitter he has every right to be. I think that just shows he hasn’t lost his passion for winning. His kind of passion reminds me of my dad who once said “Even if the prize is bag of dog turd I wanna win it”!!

Now, I’m not a mind reader, but I think of his words as his way of motivating and mobilizing the team that’s surely impacted by Lewis leave and Paddy’s negotiations: “OK, so Lewis left, Paddy is about to, but let’s all put our heads together and give a 110% and win this bloody championship for all of us and fans”!!



Loyalty to the job! Not to the employer! Its how I work 😉


This comes from a man who signed Fernando Alonso at the 2005 Brazilian GP Podium, while his two drivers suffered repeatedly that year due to unreliable car (designed by Adrian Newey, and powered by Mercedes).

A loyal team boss would have regrouped his forces and given his drivers better car next year to revenge 2005 loss.

Mr Dennis, Loyalty is not a one way street.

McLaren’s ex-team manager Jo Ramírez’s autobiography shows Loyalty is not really a virtue associated with Ron Dennis.


If Ron has moved on, he shouldn’t be commenting. Furthermore, if he’s moved on, he probably doesn’t know the details – and shouldn’t be commenting. I do hope he doesn’t become the “all mouth and no trousers” of McLaren, another flipping “advisory role” like Lauda is not a nice prospect. Martin Whitmarsh, as usual, speaks with a straight tongue.


Not supporting Ron’s words or his actions lately, but he DOES own the company, so why shouldn’t he comment on things that goes on in his company? He’s the head of the whole Mclaren Group so he does know what goes on, especially with 20+ years of experience in running an F1 team.

Lauda is different, he just got landed into Merc GP and has nothing to do with Mercedes other than has a non-exec role in it.


Perhaps if less employees were cutting themselves they might stay longer.


Wickedly clever.


If they want to win, bring back the finn. Bring back Raikkonen!


Well, when Ferrari’s schumi and Mclaren’s Mika were battling it out, i was rooting for Ferrari. I stayed loyal to Ferrari even when kimi was driving for them.

Then alonso came to Ferrari, which made me to despise the team and i was rooting for Silver Mercedes with Schumi back at helm.

Now that the old man has left F1, I find myself for the first time rooting for Mclaren – Go Button, Perez!!!


Perfectly reasonable – you can only build an effective team on loyalty


Have to disagree.

Loyalty comes from being in a good and successful working environment, not the other way around.


The driver is part of the “good and successful working environment” build process.


Yep, and through that the process the driver and team build their loyalty to each either…at least in an ideal world.


Exactly, you have to like being there, and that especially means liking the people in charge and their methods. You can tolerate a particular type, and Ron is certainly one of those, as long as the success is coming and job satisfaction is high.

But when the mad-max methods are clearly not working, it’s difficult to stomach. Unless improvements come, expect a rush for the door. Perez first.


@ Michael: Good points. Love the Aussigrit nickname, suits Mark to a T.

@ Anyone: In case it wasn’t clear, I was referring to Perez winning the race to the door, but I do hope that he wins one or two real races this year, if only to mix up the usual suspects a bit.


I hope Perez does win a few races, he seems to be capable, is positive, and the car should be quick.

My question is whether Sgt Major Ron yelling at him to tuck in his shirt and polish his boots will alienate his Latin temperament the way that Fernando was alienated.

After all, there appears to be a place opening up at Ferrari next season where Perez is the ideal candidate. Indeed, probably the only one now that Hamilton, Vettel, Button, AussiGrit, Raikonnen are all out of the frame.

Don’t bother looking anywhere further down the field for a candidate, it doesn’t work like that, Ferrari expect to picks from the best, not take a risk with underdeveloped staff.


And who says Perez won’t win a race this year? 😉


As Frank Williams once said, F1 teams are just small engineering outfits, nothing to get excited about.

An annual 20m annual profit is piffling, Lewis’s new jet cost more than that.


The “small engineering outfit” bought him the jet. No?


Maybe he has purchased a jet but most personal jets are leased. It’s far more practical in terms of maintenance & administration etc etc. Maybe he leased one from TAG. That’s one of their core businesses. That would be a nice little bit of irony. Of course, it scores highly in the bling rating scale thingy.


What gives with the time??? It says 12:13pm for the above post, yet it’s only 11:34am now! Are you on CET???


No! He got it since leaving McLaren. Took delivery 19th January 2013.


Loyalty has always been a one way thing. Employers demand it solidly of their staff, but when it is time for the company to show support for individual members it becomes insubstantial, an ideal, an aspiration which in better times etc……

Paddy has been effectively shafted by Ross, whether he goes to Merc or not next year, Ross has effectively neutralised Paddy as far as the 2014 McLaren goes. It is a quite brilliant tactic on Ross’s part. Now if someone can say that Mr Newey will be joining them for 2014, we can see Red Bull stuffed too! 🙂


Ron’s obviously still bitter about Hamilton’s departure from the team. Maybe he should’ve been more involved in the contract negotiations, instead of leaving the job to an incompetent Whitmarsh. This whole Hamilton to Mercedes situation is obviously a much bigger deal to Dennis than he’s led on in the press.

McLaren aren’t going to get anywhere this season if they live in the past. He’s gone, it’s time to move on.


“We want to win with the right principles, the right values. ” As a casual observer, it tended to involve winning (and losing) without much grace or dignity when he was running the ship. Whitmarsh seems a much more conciliatory figure.


You can’t fault Ron’s obvious love and passion for “his” team. But in this day and age, his style is perhaps a little too much.


I used to think “why did Hamilton leave McLaren ?” Now I think, “how could Hamilton bare staying at McLaren for so long ?!”


Ron Dennis may be an eccentric (or a downright nutter to some) but he is a visionary, and a man of principle. To my mind he, as much as Bernie, is responsible for our impression of what F1 is nowadays (which I admit is not necessarily all good!). He’s a ‘team boss’ who in my opinion ranks alongside only Enzo Ferrari in terms of his effect on F1 and the way his personality and values were and are reflected in the organisation he heads. It’s easy to underestimate what he brought to McLaren and in turn to F1 in the early 80s, it’s easy to dismiss it as ‘Ronspeak’ and marketing and management strategy; as if these things aren’t important to F1, or as if they aren’t inherent to F1’s engineering and racing. It’s easy to condemn Ron and McLaren as cold and clinical, as if a man who has achieved all he has, has dedicated his life to racing cars isn’t deeply passionate about what he does. It’s easy to dismiss McLaren as ‘just a F1 team’, too, which is what people fail to understand when they say “oh Vodafone are going to withdraw”.

Here’s a bloke whose smallest achievement is the sporting glory and fame he’s brought to Great Britain. Here’s a bloke who has created a huge, succesful engineering and knowledge business not from scratch, but in a stepwise, logical and sustainable way, employing hundreds of people and providing an inspirational example to people in all realms of endeavour. Quite frankly, a knighthood isn’t enough.


I heartily support Ron Dennis for a knighthood, but that doesn’t excuse McLarens apparent lack of humanity. By the way, I’ve always been a McLaren fan who has always seen their coldness as a massive problem; I guess for some of us, their engineering prowess is a stronger draw.

To win, you need a well oiled team. To lead a wel oiled team, you must have human qualities. Engineering excelence cannot replace human leadership.


Mclaren may be a very good team, but by the sounds of it they arn’t much fun to work for.

Watching Lewis yesterday, he does seem to be alot happier


I’ve always felt McLaren is like the racing world of Apple Inc.

People love them, people wanna buy their products (MP4-12C, McLaren F1), but those who work inside… not so good. A very demanding atmosphere.


He hasn’t driven the car yet!


Whetehr the car is good or not, Lewis needs this for his self development I think. Same as Vettel, his success is too closely linked to having a winning car/team. A spell in the pack – hopefully for him not too far back -will grow his stature.


Made me laugh!


By the way James – why u no show PL with RD 😉 ?


Loyalty is a two way thing and not a one way street.

Maybe Paddy Lowe feels undervalued or unappreciated, who knows.

I think Rons world might push people to show him what they can do outside the family.


The legacy does repeat itself. Look at their best designer Adrian Newey who left, as he was not happy with Mclaren structure. Now look at Redbull, following Adrian Newey’s request in terms technical set-up the team is dominating. Lewis said he is happy, Alonso says he’s happy to leave Mclaren etc. Damon Hill did mention that the team do wrap people in cotton wool.


Red Bull ‘dominated’ only one season, 2011.


What we mean by domination is yes 2011 they walked the park. 2010 Was lucky but won their 1st championship, 2011 they won their 2nd championship due to the blown exhaust diffuser was so advanced and 2012 dominated the final phases of the season with 4 GPs on the trot all due to Adrian having the right atmosphere to perform under intense pressure.


I am a Mclaren Fan and want our team to succeed and be as dominant as before. This team structure needs to be re-worked. I wonder how Mclaren could get Adrian Newey back??


Newey isn’t the holy grail, and I doubt he’d go back to Maccas while Ron is still there.

Macca team will come good but it will be as a re-built caring-sharing “modern” team, not the old-skool dictatorships of which Ron is probably the last of the breed.


Having enjoyed and very successfully utilized freedom in his current role Adrian Newey will forthwith find McLaren’s modus operandi anathema. So wonder no more. That simply won’t happen.


Why? Whatever caused him to not win anything between 2000 and 2010, something in the Mclaren set up doesn’t allow freedom of thought.


Wow another thing I totally agree with you on Hero. This is exactly why Mclaren have Lost the very best drivers consistently!


Lots and lots of $$$ and a smile…maybe.


Totally agree with both of you. I highly doubt Newey would ever go back to McLaren, that’s why I added the ‘maybe’.

If anything I think that if he was going to leave RBR for another team it would be one of the lower echelon teams where he would have the opportunity to basically repeat what he has achieved at Red Bull…but I doubt if that will happen either.

I think both of you have it right; Newey is happy at Red Bull and probably feels that has nothing more to prove.


When you already have lots of $, more $ don’t make any differences. A smiles? Well, Newey would probably also smile back but with a “haha no thanks!”

Newey likes the family and atmosphere of RBR. Otherwise he would’ve joined Ferrari when LdM made the offer last year (or even before that).


Not convinced by that. Besides, Red Bull give Newey what ever he wants, and Ferrari would to. It’s interesting to note, apart from the early success’s, Newey wasn’t that affective at Mclaren in the end, suggesting he was unhappy!

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