Ron Dennis to step down as team principal

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    Ron Dennis to step down as team principal

    Post by Ross on 16th January 2009, 11:00

    Source: ITV Sport

    Martin Whitmarsh will take over from Ron Dennis as McLaren’s team principal from March 1, Dennis announced at the MP4-24 launch on Friday.

    Dennis will remain as chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group but hand over the day-to-day running of the Formula 1 team, which he has controlled since 1981, to his long-time number two and current team CEO Whitmarsh.

    Dennis revealed the management change in answer to the final question of a press conference with journalists at the team’s Woking base, with the 61-year-old insisting it was the "right time" for him to step aside and that it had been “100% my decision”.

    He added that he would now concentrate on other projects within the McLaren Group, which he is a 15% shareholder of, but that he wasn’t totally cutting his ties with F1 and would still attend some grands prix in 2009.

    Responding to a question about his 2009 plans, Dennis said: “The first thing I’m going to do is work harder.

    “I intend to raise my own game because I think everybody in our organisation at every level realises that this is a tough period in which we are going to work.

    “We are a very diverse organisation now; we have a very clear intention for our production car programme which is really challenging

    “Any products we bring to the market will certainly be well the other side of this difficult financial period so we understand the challenge.

    “But it is absolutely time for Martin to take over the job of team principal and as of the 1st of March, Martin will have that responsibility.

    “I will still be going to races, not all of them, because I’m still passionate about Formula 1

    “But I intend to work harder and take on more responsibilities or, let’s say, a greater responsibility in certain key areas of the Group.

    “I will be full executive chairman and I still have many other responsibilities.

    “But it is time to hand over and I have to say it is absolutely 100% my decision, it’s what I want to do.”

    Speculation that Dennis was considering stepping down from his team boss role has been rife for over a year and intensified at the start of last season following the fall-out from the ‘Spygate’ saga.

    But Dennis insisted he would not be stepping back in 2008 and oversaw McLaren’s first drivers’ title success in nine years courtesy of his long-time protégé Lewis Hamilton.

    Now looking ahead to his new challenge in other parts of the McLaren Group, Dennis said he would be able to apportion more of his time on other projects without the rigid structure of an F1 season to follow.

    “As I say I do intend to work much harder, so don’t perceive it in any shape or form as some sort of retirement,” he added.

    “I want to work harder in other areas and having to plan those tasks around the grand prix calendar is sometimes destructive to the process.”

    He added that he though Whitmarsh, who has worked alongside him since 1989, will flourish with his added responsibilities.

    “It’s a job that I think Martin will really embrace and enjoy,” he said.

    “It’s a job that in practice we’ve shared for years anyway but now its going to be his decision that determines the outcome of certain things that take place at the grand prix circuit and other issues relating to the operation of the grand prix team.”

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