Dennis replaces Whitmarsh as McLaren Group CEO

2014 F1 season

Ron Dennis, McLaren, 2012Ron Dennis has returned to the role of McLaren Group chief executive officer, a position Martin Whitmarsh has held since 2009.

The move comes five years to the day since Whitmarsh took over from Dennis as team principal.

Dennis’s new responsibilities will include examining the competitiveness of their racing outfit. Last year McLaren failed to score a podium finish all season. The last time that happened was in 1980, when Dennis first took control of the company.

“My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance,” said Dennis.

“Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.

“During February, I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it. I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of group chief executive officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective ?ǣ which is to win at whatever we do.”

Dennis stepped backed from the company’s racing activities to take charge of their car production project. Since then they have launched the MP4-12C and P1 models.

McLaren will launch their 2014 F1 contender, the MP4-29, next week.

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92 comments on Dennis replaces Whitmarsh as McLaren Group CEO

  1. Jueta (@eljueta) said on 16th January 2014, 19:43

    Oh 2014, it is ON :D

  2. Morty Vicar (@mortyvicar) said on 16th January 2014, 19:56

    Good. I’m not Ron’s biggest fan and I despair of “Ronspeak” but Martin Whitmarsh has been at best ineffectual and at worst indecisive. McLaren deserves to be in the top 3 where it has historically been in the decades I’ve been an F1 fan. I only hope that Ross Brawn will become team principal and do unto Mercedes what he did to the rest of the F1 field with Honda/Brawn in 2009… (and with Ferrari in 97-06)

  3. IDR (@idr) said on 16th January 2014, 19:59

    So, Martin is still Team Principal?
    Then they return more less to the previous status Ron the Boss and Martin the yes-man.

    I never liked Ron Dennis because I don’t like that kind management stile (I’m involved in everything and people must follow my instructions), but it’s true that people used to work under that kind of management stile is not ready to take more responsibilities basically because they are not used to think and act. They just follow orders.

    Martin Whitmarsh is that kind of person, and unfortunately he has not been able to broke that situation.

    In any case IMHO, I think McLaren has taken a step backwards. Ron is over his maximum competence and McLaren is not going to be ready to make a big leap in order to recover the winning rute.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 16th January 2014, 22:33

      I agree. I think Ron’s form of leadership is too “dictatorial”. And I also think McLaren have gone backwards. Of course, I’m sure some things might run more efficiently in now, but it will not be as easy for him this time around. In this case, only time will tell.

  4. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 16th January 2014, 20:06

    I’m not a fan of Ron’s personality, but he’s damn good at what he does. McLaren needs a serious overhaul after the disaster that was 2013, and he’s by far the best man to get it done.

  5. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 16th January 2014, 20:10

    Not a Ron Dennis fan, but McLaren must do something different than what they have been doing. A definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and then expect different results.

    It is probably too late to effect much design change on the 2014 car, but certainly all phases of the racing operations can be improved throughout the 2014 season and in anticipation of 2015 and the new McLaren/Honda era. It could be argued that this should have been done long before the 2014 season, but that’s why I think the focus is more toward 2015 while trying not to lose any more ground to the rest of the field in 2014.

    To his credit, Ron Dennis is a fierce competitor and that is what McLaren needs now. My guess is he will not retake the team principal job. I don’t think Whitmarsh will last the season, but may remain until his replacement is ready to come on board. Perhaps, Ross Brawn.

  6. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 16th January 2014, 20:27

    Not exactly a resounding endorsement of Martin Whitmarsh’s ability to lead McLaren. Was McLaren’s worst season in over 30 years enough to bring Ron Dennis back to a position of power over the F1 team? And is this demotion of Whitmarsh a prelude to him being removed as team principal in the near future?

    Uncertainty and instability is never a good thing for an F1 team, and with there being plenty of that over McLaren’s engine suppliers both this year and next, I’d be worried that the effects on the F1 team could be profound. However, if there’s one man that can right McLaren it’s Ron Dennis.

  7. dot_com (@dot_com) said on 16th January 2014, 21:10

    This is exactly what McLaren needed to do. I’m sure Whitmarsh will be working elsewhere within the year.

  8. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 16th January 2014, 21:21

    I have a feeling McLaren might start winning again now.

  9. MarkM (@mpmark) said on 16th January 2014, 21:46

    its looking like McLaren are set for 2015, with Dennis back in control and Honda having the huge advantage to sit and watch an entire year I wouldn’t be surprised if they become the team to beat.

  10. nickfrog (@nickfrog) said on 16th January 2014, 22:05

    The crucial question of course is… will that fetching black leather jacket make a return too ?

  11. Boomerang said on 16th January 2014, 22:30

    I just don’t understand why most of the people believe that McLaren-Honda combination will bring instant success. I hope Lotus goes for Honda engine as well, just to differentiate in tech terms as much as possible from Red Bull. We must bear in mind the fact that major advantage of Honda turbo engine was due to the variable valve timing. Something not permited by contemprary technical regulations. I still believe they are capable of building a good engine however in the last seasons of their involvement they seemed ‘a bit’ lost. Consequently I’m not so sure about their instant success.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 17th January 2014, 1:40

      Don’t think Lotus will make it to 3rd GP this year.

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 17th January 2014, 3:06

      Agreed that success for McLaren/Honda would not be instant, or guaranteed. However, it would give them a chance to be more like a works team than their current situation with Mercedes. Honda will be happy to supply the best possible engine package whilst McLaren gets to worry about building the best possible chassis. McLaren was so close to being on top speed-wise in 2012 that a refocus might bring them back close again. They could do it.

      I’m also optimistic Lotus could be a good candidate for Honda power for the reason you mentioned. Lotus may not be out of the woods yet, but I think they will find a way to make it through the season. Lotus wanted dispensation from Renault for 2014, but I don’t think Renault wants to do anything to disrupt the Red Bull juggernaut at this point.

  12. davey said on 16th January 2014, 22:46

    Whitmarsh is the 1st to get criticized by people on here because of McLaren’s recent form, However the same people who want Ron back conveniently ignore the fact that the team also went through similar struggles when Ron was team boss the last time.

    Ron failed to manage the Prost/Senna & Alonso/Hamilton partnerships well which led to problems. McLaren went through poor seasons from 1994-1997 & had plenty of struggles between 2000-2006. Ron was also lets not forget at the head during the design of the 2009 car which began very poorly.

    Also not all of McLaren’s problems since 2009 have been down to Whitmarsh. They had a strong car in 2010, 2011 & 2012 & on many occasions it was the drivers that let the team down (Hamilton through 2011 especially).

    Those thinking Ron been involved with the F1 team again will change there fortune as if there were never any problems when he was head in the past are misguided.

    • obviously said on 16th January 2014, 23:38

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks like this.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 17th January 2014, 1:02

      @davey Even so, Ron’s last full season as team principal ended with them taking the Drivers title. Yes, Ron encountered some serious issues, but at least they were still winning. On the other hand, McLaren may have had some fast cars in recent years, but they’ve won 0 titles with them. Sure, one can blame the drivers, but Lewis was the one driver managed by both Ron and Martin. Lewis won with Ron, but not with Martin.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 17th January 2014, 1:42

      Are we comparing winning with making it into the points here, really?

      Issues of drivers fighting for Championship is something every Team Principle would love to have, it’s a job hazard.

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th January 2014, 13:02

      I agree with this. McLaren has been very strong on a number of occasions under Whitmarsh’s leadership. In 2012 over the course of the season they had arguably the fastest car. 2013 was a disaster, no denying it, but it’s a fool who thinks that the ‘Dennis years’ weren’t also plagued by these mysterious inexplicable dips in performance. Don’t forget this is also the man whose inability to successfully manage his drivers in 2007 effectively cost them both championships and lost them one of the biggest talents on the grid. His tenure was marred by repeated clashes with both the FIA and FOM over issues which more savvy businessmen would have handled far better.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see McLaren giving things a proper shake up and I think the timing is good for them to get their ducks in a line for the 2015 season when they will be entering into something of a new chapter for the team. But I don’t think it’s right to make out like Ron Dennis’s stint as principle marked some kind of golden age for McLaren, or that Whitmarsh’s time has been completely bereft of success.

      Now, I wonder if Ross Brawn is in Dennis’s contacts list..

  13. chris said on 16th January 2014, 23:27

    How is it so many people are commenting as if Martin has been ditched as team principle!? Guys, sorry to break it to you…..

  14. obviously said on 16th January 2014, 23:58

    Why is everyone assuming this is good, as if Ron is in his 40s? When you stop once, it’s over, unless you are not even half way through. You can’t just assume position of the #1 man and run with it. He needs to get the whole thing working to his rhythm again, he needs to get up to speed and I don’t think he himself has 100% dedication to do it all over again.

    I think that was one of the most striking things that I took from Ross Brawn’s interview after he said he is taking time off. He noted that he will have to see if he has one more stint in him. You just don’t have that inner burning desire, even though you might still have a rational will to go and do the best job you can. It’s not an old man’s game and if your desire it tameable, it means it’s not strong enough anymore. Just like Schumacher’s return in 2010. He liked it and he did enjoy it I suppose, but he came because he thought the car comes with a title, judging by their 2009 form, not because he wanted to do it all over again, like he did in 1996.

    • antonyob (@) said on 17th January 2014, 18:42

      I think what you say is 100% right but I’d say Mclaren plc haven’t got many options. Anything is a gamble, unless they got Newey. Dennis’ track record, excuse the pun, with Mclaren F1 and then Mclaren road cars is impeccable

  15. karter22 (@karter22) said on 17th January 2014, 3:56

    Fantastic news! Now all we need is Flavio at Lotus/Reanult back and everything will be back to normal!! LMAO!!

  16. reg (@reg) said on 17th January 2014, 6:58

    Best F1 news I’ve heard this offseason.

  17. davros said on 17th January 2014, 8:18

    All they need to do is hire Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna for 2015 and they’ll have the dream team.

  18. wayne (@waynedru78) said on 17th January 2014, 10:57

    why this change so late on 2 weeks before testing ? me thinks the mp4/29 isn’t going to produce what they thought this year errors like last year so an immediate change is needed I too think Ron is the better man for the job.

  19. antonyob (@) said on 17th January 2014, 18:39

    I’d rather go for a drink with Whitmarsh but Ron is a one off. An obsessive, a difficult man but a genius in his field. very happy to see him back, watching Senna 38 x over the last couple of years made me miss him strangely.

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