Ron Dennis: “McLaren should have reverted to 2012 car at the start of 2013 Formula 1 season”
Ron Dennis
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  02 Dec 2015   |  5:14 pm GMT  |  94 comments

Ron Dennis believes McLaren should have reverted to its 2012 car immediately after the first race of 2013, at the beginning of the team’s longest gap between Grand Prix victories its Formula 1 history.

McLaren has not won a race since the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of 2012 and has only secured two podium finishes in the 57 races since then, both of which came in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. This year the team finished ninth in the constructors’ championship, its worst performance since 1980.

Speaking at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dennis explained that as the team ended 2012 with arguably the quickest car in F1, it should not have introduced a completely new design for the following year and when the new machine’s weaknesses became known, the decision to revert to the previous year’s car should have been taken.

Jenson Button

He said: “The level of our performance this year is understood, last year sometimes your compass heading just gets completely off and you go down the wrong aero path and you’re toast.

“When you make a car and built into it is a fundamental weakness, it’s extremely hard to develop out of it. When we left what was a dominant season in 2012 we were by far the quickest car.

“There was no regulation change [for 2013]. It was not the right decision to make a new car and it was not the right decision not to immediately revert to that car after the first Grand Prix. That was a real point at which the company made a mistake.

“We should have reverted to [the 2012] car and we should have developed that car and then we would have not lost, instead of constantly pursuing something that, with the benefit of hindsight, was fundamentally flawed.”

Sergio Perez

When asked where his team’s recent problems had started, Dennis explained that there were a range of factors that affected an F1 team’s performance, from its chassis and engine to personnel changes and their levels of motivation.

He said: “When you look at Formula 1 overall, there is no question that teams go up and down in their performance. We don’t live in the past; we try to learn from it.

“We can analyse each year and you can say, especially retrospectively, where did we go wrong and that leaves out of the equation the technician, the designers, who in themselves become a bit of a commodity that move around the teams.

“They not only move around the teams but their own motivation goes up and down and you see that as having an influence as well. And of course, people mature and they lose some of their naked hunger to succeed.

“If you look at the patterns you realise that it’s a combination of everything and not about one thing. The fact that McLaren hasn’t had a particularly successful season either this year or last, you quickly forget the level of dominance that we’ve enjoyed.”

Jenson Button

McLaren’s poor run of results coincided with Vodaphone stopping its title sponsorship of the team and Dennis pointed out that the situation had occurred as a result of changes at the British company and he was not worried about a lack of title sponsor affecting his team’s finances.

He said: “Things are rarely as they appear to be. The simple fact is we didn’t lose Vodafone, they chose to stop. There is a big difference because big corporations have senior management changes [and] it is inevitable when you have senior management changes that they have a different perspective and it is opportunistic for the CMOs to lobby for different directions. We were just caught up in these changes.

“Do I lose sleep over it? No, I don’t, and we are very strong financially. The equity value of our organisation is now well over £1bn and all of our businesses are profitable.”

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Qualifying Day - Melbourne, Australia

Despite the problems McLaren has encountered with its Honda power unit in 2015, Dennis described the team’s efforts to improve next season and reiterated his belief that the partnership would be successful.

He said: “We have to dig deep, take the criticism and work that bit harder, but it is most definitely going in the right direction. Not so much here at the circuit, but on our test beds in Japan and in the windtunnels [in Woking]. We’re very focused, but intend to under promise and over deliver.”

“Our objective is to be as competitive as possible to win races [and] putting aside that, we’re absolutely here to win world championships, and that requires the best of the best, whatever that represents. It’s certainly not going to be achievable with the second of the best.”

Fernando Alonso

What have you made of McLaren in recent years? Do you think the team will recover in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

JA on F1 Season Review 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 13.31.30

This year we are publishing the JA on F1 Season Review 2015, which is available to pre-order now in a Limited Edition print run. It will be published and dispatched on 10th December.

The Review is a collectible and an ideal Christmas stocking filler for F1 fans looking to fill the gap during the off-season.

The JA on F1 2015 Season Review costs £5-99 and is available to post anywhere in the world.

To make sure you don’t miss out click on this link below to order your copy now!

JA on F1 2015 Season Review

Featured Video
Sign up for Jenson’s Triathlon today!
Featured News in mclaren
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

It’s interesting to hear Dennis make that admission and makes you question why they even went to the first race with that car. Both drivers were very experienced racers, they must have climb out after the end of testing and seriously scratched their heads. The question remains is why did the management of the team persisted with that car. It is noticeable that a considerable number of employees left shortly afterwards for other teams, probably safe in the knowledge that they were never going to be able to develop their way out of what was a poor car and desperate to keep their reputations intact.

This, probably was the real start of the downturn for McLaren. That downturn was not the fault of the designers or engineers. It was the fault of the senior management team, who did not make the difficult decision at the time to consign that car to the dustbin of bad ideas.


Who would have thought, when Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2004 Brazilian GP, that we were witnessing the end of Williams as a serious title contender? Is history repeating?


Yup, Vettel won 1 of the first 13 races in 2012. Not really the same level of dominance that Mercedes currently enjoy.


^ @John S


They are done until F1 ditches this terrible hybrid engine disaster


Dear Mr. Dennis,

You must be incorrect when you said your 2012 car was “quickest by far”, there are people who comment on this site who have repeatedly told me Sebastian Vettel had the quickest car in 2012 and I don’t think he drove any of your cars. And I think they are more qualified than you….wait what is your position with Mclaren again??


All of Seb’s fans



they will be just fine next year. perhaps not contending with Mercedes just yet, but certainly

where Ferrari was this year. I have the utmost faith in both Mclaren and Honda that they know

what they are doing and WILL find the Horses to compete in 2016!!!!!!

and they still have the best driver!!!!!!!


I have always hated the stuffy pretentious corporate atmosphere at Mclaren, remember the post race drivers uniforms that were actually just tops. ultra white and pressed flat as a board get every sponser’s name fully visible? Ill never forget watching Hamilton sit down and look himself over and pulling at the creases to make sure he was properly presentable. Absolutely cringe inducing.

However now that they are serious underdogs I find myself pulling for them. It was a gutsy move by the team and Honda to take on fresh partnership, I admire it and from an engineering perspective is fascinating stuff. .


Paddy Lowe is a lucky guy.


I like f1 racing and I hope McLaren improve drastically.


you make big gains and then they get gradually smaller and smaller. Mclaren havent made their big gains yet so should catch up.

Only problem is big rule changes happening which scuppers attemps to get on terms unless you are really lucky with what you pull out of the hat.


Under promise, over deliver. There is still some desperately embarrassing content floating around on the Web from Honda’s pr department at the start of the season. I find it hard to see how they can ever catch up, with strictly limited testing the rich get richer.


If a guy cant post a decent post here- Im just gonna give up. several attempts at 3 diff posts all failed.

I certainly cant bring myself to recommending this site if one cant even post a comment- no matter how much I enjoy the content.

Merry Christmas & Best wishes fof 2016


@ elie…..i suggest that you keep your posts brief and apply random’s solution via the F5 key. seems to work 50% of the time but it’s better than zip.


Few weeks ago it was almost impossible for me to post anything, now all of a sudden it’s working fine!


Sadly agree. More than a couple of sentences and its pot luck! Am just going to try a post so. . . .


whitmarsh would’ve done a much better job..


Whitmarsh seemed like a nice enough chap, and could talk the hind legs off a donkey. Would probably make a good politician. However I agree with Rafael in that he lacked that ruthless streak required to be a good team leader.


Like his peers (Stefano Domenicalli, and to an extent Nicky Fry), Whitmarsh proved to be a good and competent guy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. I think the missing factor from those three is that they lacked the killer instinct of their predecessors (Dennis – Whitmarsh, Todt – Domenicalli, David Richards – Fry).


it’s all talk about nothing. dennis dished out a lot of this talk preseason until after the first test and a couple of race. him and his right hand man vanished from the media. now that the racing is over, he returns with more talk..

the real story will play out again in march…


I think it will still be an MB 1-2 next year and that Ferrrari will be a little closer than this year. The real racing, however, will be between Williams, Force, McLaren (yes!) and RB. The battle of the rest will also be interesting – if Haas is competitive when they hit the ground, and Manor up their game with the Merc engine then there will be some good racing there as well.


for the sake of f1 everyone has an interest in mclaren improving. another competitive outfit is sorely needed. mclaren are capable of recovering. it all takes time. mclarens problems in ’15 at least showed up the stupidity of the engine regulations especially the penalties.


At this level if it’s possible to “work harder” you should have already been fired.


Could have, should have, would have

A huge amount of opinions and reflections etc coming out of a team at the bottom, that keeps believing they’re a force at the top.

As a kiwi, this is painful to watch.


What ever happened to Martin Whitmarsh.?

Anybody know


Isnt whitmarsh involved in an americas cup project?


Ben Ainslie Americas cup project. I believe Whitmarsh is CEO. Not that he needs to work, apparently the pay-off he got from McLaren was close to the GDP of a small country


Sorry about double post, should have checked first.

Hope link is allowed


UK America’s Cup CEO I think…..


He’s sitting at home with a smile a mile wide on his face!


Well the 2012 car was incredibly unreliable but very quick. One thing McLaren did right was hire new pit crew for 2013 as their 2012 crew were possibly the worst in the history of F1.


Yes it was unreliable and the team had bad pit stops, so nobody would blame Hamilton for being nowhere in the title hunt, yet his fans constantly tell us Sebastian had the fastest car over all races in 2012…


Dean, I was referring to the extreme but outright saying “extreme” some people may not think they’re extreme when they are. Not you.


I didn’t say that… im a Hamilton fan…. I think you are referring to the, ultimately, small percentage of Ham fans that are bit….extreme. Most of us are quite level headed you know!


“We’re very focused, but intend to under promise and over deliver. Our objective is to be as competitive as possible to win races [and] putting aside that, we’re absolutely here to win world championships.”

I love how he promises to under promise and then says they’re objective is to win races and champions. I know he means long term but it still made me giggle.


Good to see that it wasn’t just me 🙂


At first I thought he was advocating dropping the 2015 car in favor of the 2014!

That would have made even more sense……….


Is he thanking Paddy Lowe for overseeing that 2013 dog before he did a runner to Mercedes? 😉


It’s a painful problem for many teams now. In the past, if you wanted a Ford DFV, you bought one.

Now if you want a Mercedes or Ferrari engine, they won’t provide one if they think there is half a chance of you beating them with your potentially better chassis.

It’s a hard situation for top teams like Red Bull and McLaren.

I think McLaren, or rather Honda, will turn things around in 2016, but really the sport needs to take a serious look at itself, and take action.

They say that cream rises to the top, but when you are ‘lost in space’, that is not going to happen.


…and reverted back to the Merc engine after the first race of 2015.

Just kidding. But not really. But actually I am just kidding.

I get the theory that you “can’t beat a manufacturer if you are their customer”. And they want to win the big prize so that means beating the manufacturer. I get that it’s a long term plan.

But still, you gotta wonder how they would have done with a Merc engine this year.

Top Tags