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Ron Dennis breaks his silence: “We will win races this year”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Mar 2014   |  12:31 pm GMT  |  280 comments

“We have to get back to competitiveness as soon as possible and we will get there much faster than people imagine, ” declared McLaren boss Ron Dennis this morning, breaking his silence for the first time since seizing back control of the company from Martin Whitmarsh.

“I believe we will win races this year, how many I don’t know and when I don’t know. The company was unfit and I said to them that if they match my commitment we will win. If they don’t match it they won’t be with the company.”

Dennis was on feisty form at a press gathering at the McLaren Technical Centre in Woking, England, laying out his vision for the company and for the F1 team’s return to competitiveness after its worst season since 1980.

“People were distracted, they had lost focus,” he said of the team as run by Whitmarsh last year. “[From now on] The F1 people in the company will only do F1, no distractions,” he added.

He declined to speak about Whitmarsh’s future, describing him as a friend and insisting that what is going on at the moment is “between us”. However, sources suggest that Whitmarsh is currently on holiday in Asia and will be organising his severance package when he returns later this month.

Dennis also spelled out the role he will – and more importantly won’t – undertake at races. “I have no intention of running the GP team. I guide them, advise them and will use my executive power to make changes if needed,” he said. “I’m fully involved at moment. I won’t be active at the circuit. I’m there to observe. We are in the restructuring phase at the moment and I want to be involved.”

Speaking about new recruit Eric Boullier, who has been hired as Racing Director, Dennis said: “Eric will carry the responsibility of those assigned in the regulations of a team principal.” However, Dennis, like Mercedes, believes that the job of running a team is nowadays too big today for one individual, especially when that person is out of the factory on the road at races for almost four months a year. The CEO role is  key to Dennis’ vision, factory-based and focused on developing the team and making the car faster. The new appointment to that role would leave Boullier free to run the race team. Jonathan Neale is filling the role currently and will be the benchmark against whom all other candidates will be measured.

“The factory is where the power has to be. What makes the car faster happens here,” Dennis insisted.

The McLaren boss confirmed that the team will have no title sponsor at the first race of the season, but added, “one will feature in a few races after that. We are negotiating with several companies at the moment and I’m optimistic that it will happen sooner than later.” He also said that the team had turned away several companies offering a stop-gap solution, preferring to pursue a long-term partner to replace Vodafone.

Of the team’s 2014 driver line-up he said that hiring Kevin Magnussen was his decision, based on information from engineers. As for Jenson Button, he described him as an “incredibly good human being, principled and [he] has values. The way he conducts his life and his relationship with the team is right up there with the best drivers we have had here. He’s incredibly fit and intelligent, which will be important this year. He’s also quick and capable of winning races and championships. His age (34) will have nothing but a positive impact.”

In a sign that Dennis’ presence in the F1 paddock may influence the direction the sport takes on several topics, he indicated both that he was not a fan of budget caps and also that he has “done his bit” for the collective good in the past and from now on will be focused on what is best for McLaren, rather than the F1 teams as a whole.

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1

More solid evidence for my personal dislike of Mclaren. What a stuffy pretentious character. Surely a job with Mclaren has to be one of the most uncomfortable paranoid places in the world to work. Cant fault his direction, RD has proven it works, but personally I find his cold fish approach about as appealing as a Nascar race.

Bring back the starched TV uniforms and the robotic TV interviews please… the Mclaren drivers were about to become human!

2

Never have I read so much crap about what Ron said (or did not say). He clearly said that Button is a nice average driver and will be out of a job next year (unless he is WDC). Magnussen is expected to beat him this year or he may not have a job next year either. Ron knows that the factory needs sorting to produce a world beating car again, but he also knows that he needs a top driver to get the job done. Unless the MP4/29 is another BGP with an unfair advantage neither will win the WDC this year. Vettel is top of his list if either fails to deliver this year.!!

3

Sorry for miss spellings damb computer changing it

4

We’ll regard button he’s neat her bottom tear or top but neither a second tear he has so much experience and raw pace in the race not so good on qaully but as Hamiltonian team mate that lots said he was mad to go up against the lion done an amazing job by out pointing Hamilton over three seasons complete he also was in the hunt in champion ship each of them seasons to write up to the wire to and one of them he would have even closer to winning it if he didn’t have the team leave a cool aid in the car at Monaco so he had to retire which was not his fault as at the time he was bagging some good points also he’s the rain master to no Jenson is a very good top driver who has not had a winning car yet since Hamilton left people soon forget you when things don’t go so well with the car magnums on I think will push Jenson I’m shore May even beat him as he is young blood but he will have to fight hard to do that as button is a cool cat on race day he’s a thinker out side of the box well let’s just wait and see good luck this year to Jenson and Ron back and mc Larsen

5

It’s great to have him back. Magnussen for 2015 WDC!

6

If Button’s off-track character is like Senna’s – thoughtful, caring, charitable etc. – that manifestly doesn’t prevent him from being a competitive sod on-track. We all remember how he finished the longest race in F1 history – his concentration and stamina surpassing Vettel’s – but don’t forget the ruthlessly elegant way he tipped Alonso over the kerb and out of the race. Don’t mistake Jenson for someone who shows any mercy when it counts. And give him credit for managing a 4th place in the worst McLaren for thirty-odd years.

7
Bigronslovechild

I think McLaren have a good line up … and RD’s comments about Jenson are spot on.

What Jenson will is intelligent enough to be a team player, he will assist KM to develop and using his considerable experience will contribute to the development of the car, for the good of both drivers.

Jenson will also consistently pick up good points, something the team needs .. KM may well provide some headlines, especially if he’s as quick as people are saying, but he’ll probably have a fair few DNF’s.

It would be great to have a strong McLaren again and an openly contest championship across several teams and drivers. Last yr was pretty tedious unless you were a Vettel and Red Bull fan.

8

“Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you will miss the whole heavenly glory” ron dennis interviews has more hidden answers than what you heard. It points out bad management by martin and how they played lewis in his last year by stopping him from winning willingly by the team. Watch the interview on skysport website. Sorry james for mentioning the source. I hope it is legal in here

9

It is reported elsewhere that it was Whitmarsh who made first approach for Boullier to join McLaren.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/112790

10

And now he’s without a job!

Great move Martin…..

11

Ferrari has now a good chance getting a new, experienced boss, with a valuable healthy network of engineering/management contacts to take advantage of.

MW to Ferrari in 2015, if the 2014 campaign proves to be (another) failure.

MW I am sure would love it. A new healthy challenge, after 20 years working for the same company. Add to that all Italy can offer such as better weather, better food, less formality and…Ferrari.

12

Looking ahead a couple of seasons…

In 2016 McLaren-Honda have a year under their belt, with plenty of opportunity to stamp out any problems and make the partnership a competitive package.

Strangely enough one drivers’ current contract ends in 2015, and I’m willing to bet that there is absolutely no way that driver would pass up the opportunity to emulate his idol and challenge for the championship in a (possibly red and white?) McLaren Honda MP4/31.

Nudge nudge wink wink?

13

Ron can’t kick out Button immediately, due to contractual reasons (thanks Whitmarsh!)…

So he is just trying to make the most of the pieces he is picking up the game from…

Might as well motivate and grab a point or two for the season…

Once the contracts are done, I can see Button being booted out ASAP. Whitmarsh too…

14

I like his agressiveness.

“I said to them that if they match my commitment we will win. If they don’t match it they won’t be with the company.”

Nice guys, like Whitmarsh, get overrun by employees.

15
Tom in Adelaide

Working for Ron Dennis would scare the hell out of me. :O

16

Love the photo of Ron, sure does look aggressive like “Are you with me or else the door is just behind you!”. McLaren will do well by hook or by crook.

17

some more words from Ron….paints a slightly different picture to JA!

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/06/motor-racing-mclaren-drivers-idINL3N0M33OV20140306

18

Indeed it does.

19
kenneth chapman

RD has outlined a clear and unambiguous pathway for the future. i believe that at the conclusion of his company address when he announced the shake up and the whitmarsh exit he was accorded a standing ovation by the staff.

a company like mclaren operating in the cuthroat environment of F1 needs a no nonsense leader who stands head and shoulders above the rest. RD is the man for the job. most professional staff value and appreciate strong direction. if anyone can lift the team back to regular winning results it is RD. MW was a ‘nice chap’ by all accounts but he was too close to the workers and too distracted from the main game.

21

It should be remembered that Jenson did well at the McLaren young driver test in 1999, he beat Alesi’s time in a Prost F1 car at the same time, beat Bruno Juncera at a Williams test in early 2000, and gave Ralf Schumacher a run for his money at Williams in 2000. So I’m a fan. He’s not spectacular to watch in a race, similar to Alain Prost. But he does deliver and in my view deserves respect .

22

+1. He was also WDC in 2009 and runner up in 2011. Short memories people…

23

Like him or loathe him, at least Ron is doing something to try an put the team back on track.

Lets face facts, Macca have not won a great deal for the past few seasons – in fact last year not even a single race…

24

Jenson took #2 in the WDC in what, 2011? Or three seasons ago? You whiners all let a dismal 2013 car cloud your memory…the facts say that McL was at the sharp end of the pack for the 2 or 3 years leading up to 2013…

25

“People were distracted, they had lost focus,” he said of the team as run by Whitmarsh last year. “[From now on] The F1 people in the company will only do F1, no distractions,” he added.

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was, I wonder if this is why the new McLaren P1 is reportedly so brilliant ?

Surely I cant be the only one that drew this conclusion.

It reminded me of a comment made by Jeremy Clarkson regarding Ferrari and that in his opinion when Ferrari make a good road car, the same year they produce an uncompetitive F1 car and vise versa.

Can the same now be true of McLaren ?

26

People were distracted, they had lost focus,” he said of the team as run by Whitmarsh last year. “[From now on] The F1 people in the company will only do F1, no distractions,”

It’s pity and the statement clearly shows Dennis have no respect for Martin W what so ever for the decent job he did with Mclaren.

People here and many simply slate Whitmarsh for nothing. He did a superb job for me with the exception of 2013. In 2009 Mclaren turned a Hopeless machinery into a race winner in the second half of the season. Mclaren matched RBR for pace in 2010 & 2012. (2010 & 2012) machinery were potential WDC winners. Lewis lost the chance in 2010 and reliability / opertional errors costed mclaren the WDC in 2012. Martin W handled the twitter gate saga in much subtle manner in 2012. Then again betweeen 10&12 whitmarsh handled and managed the driver’s conflict very well.

Ron dennis have big EGO and shows quite lot of antics than Martin W. Nothing else is special

27

Agreed. RD did not need to make such a negative statement about the team, which was clearly aimed directly at a certain scapegoat, intending to justify his proposed “transformation” of the team. His thoery must be that in slating their current performance to such a degree, his efforts to improve the team cannot fail. However, such public comments are unprofessional and disrespectful to those employees (including MW)who work under the enormous pressures of F1, and at the very least should have been kept within the Company walls. He is a deeply uncomfortable public speaker and in that respect MW runs rings around him.

28

This interview with Ron Dennis throws more light on the importance of an ‘intelligent’ driver in 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azjkxW2_BeQ&sns=em

29

Wow I think you covered it perfectly with “feisty”, James!

Tbf, although Ron Dennis has always been good at answering questions, he’s rarely been as blunt as that from my recollection. Not for nothing did Ronspeak become paddock legend.

But today he definitely told it as he saw it and he is definitely desperate to get McLaren winning again. Intriguingly, while many individuals mellow with age, I can’t help but avoid the conclusion that Ron is if anything more combative than he used to be. This isn’t always a good thing, and bringing him back into the F1 fold will present its challenges. However, his drive and ambition means it’s inescapable that he’ll also bring a lot of good to the team.

30

This man’s so scary. Why doesn’t he just let go?

31

Ron’s comments about JB remind me of Alan Partridge saying “give him a picture of a spitfire, and let him go”…

32

Ron has his work cut out for him this season – things have moved on and the pecking order is not what it was.

Even though Hamilton did well in his first season who is to say he may not have done so well if he did not have a fast world champion in the next car to make him try that little bit harder.

Magnusson has no such benchmark.

Interesting article wonder if Ron will fall on his sword if things don’t go to plan and this season is like the last?

33

Doubt it. The team will out perform last seasons fiasco.

If the team only marginally improves, more people will be working elsewhere or in laymans terms out on their arse with Whitmarsh.

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