Ron Dennis doesn’t want a seat filler in 2008

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Montreal, 2007 | DaimlerI’ve read a lot of remarks by people who think that Ron Dennis will just stick any old driver in the second McLaren seat next year.

The assumption seems to be that he’s already got Lewis Hamilton and all he needs and wants to do is stick a loyal but not super-quick number two in the second car.

I don’t agree with that idea because it doesn’t fit Ron Dennis’s modus operandi.

Throughout his entire time at McLaren Dennis has always tried to sign the best two drivers he could get his hands on. Before Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton came Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Look at the drivers he signed to McLaren on long-term deals: David Coulthard (multiple winner), Mika Hakkinen (multiple champion), Gerhard Berger (multiple winner), Ayrton Senna (multiple champion), Alain Prost (multiple champion), Keke Rosberg (champion) and Niki Lauda (multiple champion).

Do any of those look like a Pedro de la Rosa to you?

When he signed Lewis Hamilton last year Dennis said it was as much because he looked at the other drivers in the sport and didn’t think any of them good enough to drive for his team.

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Hungaroring, 2007 | Lorenzo Bellanca / LAT PhotographicSince then Heikki Kovalainen has made an impressive d??but and is considered a front runner for the seat. Nico Rosberg had a markedly better 2007 than 2006 and Dennis is also believed to be after him.

I am sure these two are the front runners for the seat and that Frank Williams will demand a king’s ransom for Rosberg. Among the drivers in the lower echelons of the sport only Timo Glock has a CV anything like Hamilton’s was this time last year – and Toyota have already nabbed him.

Yes, on occasions in the past he’s stuck a less talented driver in the car as a one-off: a Stefan Johansson or Mark Blundell. But this was usually a short-term of contingency measure.

The state of the driver market may force him to do the same this year. But I think Ron Dennis is too stubborn to change a fundamental aspect of how he runs his team – such as insisting that they run two first-rate drivers in equal equipment.

He might have one Hamilton already, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for the next one.

Photos: Daimler | Lorenzo Bellanca / LAT Photographic

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