Dennis plans to rid McLaren of “distractions”

2014 F1 season

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Bahrain, 2014Ron Dennis plans to put McLaren back on top in Formula One by ensuring his team is free of any distractions from its goal.

Dennis, who regained the position of Group CEO at the company which includes responsibility for the team, outlined his plan in a media briefing at the McLaren Technology Centre on Thursday.

“The new model for our Formula One team is that its completely populated by people who have no other objective but winning in Formula One,” Dennis explained.

He said the team would have “no responsibilities for income”, which would be handled by other parts of the business which includes road can manufacturing and technology divisions.

Dennis has already appointed Eric Boullier to handle of day-to-day running of the team in the role of racing director. Although Dennis will attend the opening races he stressed “I have no intention of running the grand prix team.”

“I will guide them, give them the benefit of my knowledge and, if necessary, use my executive authority to change things. We have tremendous competence and I am fully involved in the moment.

“Of course, I have a lot of respect for the people in our team but they were distracted, not focused enough.”

“What we have to do is get them focused on what this company is exclusively about, which is winning,” he added. “And we will win. I believe we will win races this year. I really believe that.”

McLaren suffered a poor season in 2013, falling to fifth in the championship after failing to score a single podium finish for the first time in 23 years. Dennis described the team as “unfit”.

“It needs to get fit, and there is pain to getting fit.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, Interlagos, 2013Former team principal Martin Whitmarsh was the first casualty of Dennis’s reforming drive. Whitmarsh’s future role at McLaren – if any = is yet to be confirmed, and Dennis was cagey on what the outcome might be.

“I appointed Martin to this company 20 odd years ago,” he began when asked about Whitmarsh’s future, “and he has been alongside me for those 20 years.”

“He is a friend and he has always been a friend. The situation is 100 per cent between him and me until its resolution.

“I know I am tough, I know people have different opinions of how I run companies and how I function, and people see my attention to detail as a negative. But I see it as a positive.

“And one thing I am is very principled, and the behaviour of this company to its employees is exceptional. There is a way to do things, and I have to lead by example to everybody.”

However he did reveal that Whitmarsh had contacted Boullier about a possible role at the team around the same time Dennis himself had:

“Strangely enough outside of the company – meaning not in any capacity – I made contact. Pretty much in parallel Martin made contact. So there was a bit of overlap”

“For some time I have been discussing with the shareholders and with everybody that this was not working. So inevitably Martin had to face the facts and it was not working. It is not surprising that there was a change.”

2014 F1 season


Browse all 2014 F1 season articles

Images © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Advert | Go Ad-free

37 comments on Dennis plans to rid McLaren of “distractions”

  1. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 6th March 2014, 23:01

    Strong words from Ron as expected. Whatever you might think of his personality, he’s clearly the best man to bring McLaren back to the top.

    • J.Danek said on 7th March 2014, 8:06

      More like he’s clearly the man most likely to engage in unethical behavior and outright lying/cheating in desperation to boost his team’s sagging chances, as evidenced by the documented history of shameless skullduggery that earned Dennis’s team a $100 million fine.

      • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 7th March 2014, 9:18

        It is indeed well documented, but clearly J.Danek you haven’t actually read the history. Dennis was the one who reported the breaches to the FIA.

        Alonso, Coughlan and De La Rosa are the McLaren employees who we know were engaged in unethical behaviour, lying and cheating.

        • Albrecht said on 7th March 2014, 9:39

          @jerseyf1

          It is indeed well documented, but clearly J.Danek you haven’t actually read the history. Dennis was the one who reported the breaches to the FIA.

          Something the FIA’s president (Max Mosley) denied. In fact, he claimed Dennis was actually lying when he said the emails contained nothing incriminating.

          Alonso, Coughlan and De La Rosa are the McLaren employees who we know were engaged in unethical behaviour, lying and cheating.

          By McLaren’s own words, it was a “number of employees”, unknown exactly how many, but it takes a lot more than those three to do what McLaren was doing. And it’s also very hard to believe the team directors weren’t aware of the situation, to the very least partially.

  2. Liam McShane (@motor_mad) said on 6th March 2014, 23:05

    That’s what I like to hear.

  3. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 6th March 2014, 23:05

    Axing Whitmarsh is like kicking a puppy. Ron was the only man strong enough to do it.

    • Shimks (@shimks) said on 6th March 2014, 23:46

      Good comment!

    • MW (@) said on 7th March 2014, 8:17

      You can’t make a “Ronlette” without cracking a few eggs :)

    • OOliver said on 7th March 2014, 9:00

      It may appear so on the surface, but I think Withmarsh’s strengths are in other areas. He didn’t appear to have the razor sharp focus for winning, and seemed to be consumed by other passions, like the need to just participate or to score points continuously even if a mere trickling of points.
      You can be amiable yet strict, and Withmarsh seemed to be lacking in this area. He appeared none confrontational and the team personnel were getting more sloppy in their attention to detail as a result.
      Withmarsh belongs somewhere in administration within the organisation, or even managing the organisational aspects of the team but not directing the team.

      Its unfortunate that he waited all these years for the opportunity to lead the team yet didn’t last too long. He may be a nice man and many of us are nice individuals who find it difficult to make those tough decisions many a times, but they still need to be made.

      • PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 7th March 2014, 11:57

        In one word, Whitmarsh was gutless.

        • Albrecht said on 7th March 2014, 12:36

          @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

          Was he? It seems to me it was the other way around, going by the decisions the team took (the only things we can actually see).

          In 2012 they took a lot of risks with the pit management. In 2013 the went on a completely different direction with the car. Those risky, cutting-edge are decisions of a very determined man (even if they proved to be wrong ones), not of a gutless man.

          We need to be more careful about the amount of judgement we pass on Whitmarsh’s work on McLaren, we know far too little, and what we think we know may not be right.

        • Albrecht said on 7th March 2014, 13:11

          Also, I must add, just because Dennis seems more imponent, likes to used hard words and speak loudly, while Withmatsh shows a more calmed exterior, it doesn’t mean that’s how they react in actual situations. Appareances and capabilities are two very different things.

          Sure, 2013 was a terrible year for McLaren, but Dennis has had his own off seasons. And 2012 was as good as anyone not called Red Bull could have expected.

          We have to be very carefully in the amount of judgement we pass on these persons, specially because, at the end of the day, we know practically nothing about them.

          • Nick (@nick101) said on 9th March 2014, 14:39

            And let’s not forget in 2011 Button took 2nd in the WDC driving a McLaren under the direction of Whitmarsh. If not for the utterly dominant Bull, Whitmarsh would have seen a McLaren WDC crowned under his reign.

  4. George (@george) said on 6th March 2014, 23:11

    He wants to put McLaren on a level playing field with Ferrari and Red Bull then? Good to hear.

  5. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 6th March 2014, 23:20

    Typo on this line

    He said the team would have “no responsibilities for income”, which would be handled by other parts of the business which includes road can manufacturing and technology divisions.

    Car

    • Sir OBE said on 6th March 2014, 23:50

      Ahahaha “road can manufacturing”. XD
      Is that one of McLaren Applied Technologies ventures? :) Can market is in for an overhaul!

    • OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 7th March 2014, 7:19

      Maybe indirectly referring to a certain team which is in the ‘can’ business, selling their drinks in ‘cans’

  6. Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 6th March 2014, 23:48

    As a fairly recent F1 follower (2011+) I don’t really know how Dennis was back in the day but I’m beginning to piece together his character.

    Definitely the strong, decisive leadership McLaren needs right now. Such a relief McLaren are looking competitive again (touch wood) after that disastrous 2013 campaign

  7. Tiago Sá said on 6th March 2014, 23:53

    Oh, you missed 2009. Such a fantastic year!

  8. Paul said on 7th March 2014, 0:08

    The return of Ronspeak…

  9. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 7th March 2014, 1:52

    “I will guide them, give them the benefit of my knowledge and, if necessary, use my executive authority to change things. We have tremendous competence and I am fully involved in the moment.”

    I guess McLaren will also be focusing bandwidth on achievable outcomes, which cannot be achieved without exponentiation of core competencies. Hopefully we’ll see McLaren return to their brand alignment by shedding unnecessary baggage to get away from their aggressive mediocrity.

    Programmatic Specificity.

  10. Dev said on 7th March 2014, 2:49

    don’t thing Ron will make much difference, Martin only did bad in 2013 rest he had cars which were good for top 3 in any races… under Ron things may get worse.

    • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 7th March 2014, 6:43

      It’s not about producing cars only. Martin Whitmarsh never built cars himself. It’s about the art of management and leadership where Ron clearly excels against Martin.

      Like Ron mentioned, “no responsibilities for income”, McLaren had been focusing on their road car projects and marketing business which diverted their attention from the fundamentals of the company. That’s why Ron has stepped in to arrange the talent in order and show them a direction and his past records speak for themselves.

      • Albrecht said on 7th March 2014, 8:09

        @neelv27

        It’s about the art of management and leadership where Ron clearly excels against Martin.

        Does he? Based on what? It’s not like the 2000-2009 McLaren was performing that much differently than 2010-2012, 2013 being the notable exception. And we don’t even get to see how he would have responded back to such a crisis in 2014.wavemind

      • PeterG said on 7th March 2014, 15:09

        McLaren had been focusing on their road car projects

        The road car & other project’s are run totally separately from the F1 team.

        In fact the past few years its been Ron Dennis thats been running the road car side of things.

        Ron coming back won’t have much impact on track performance, They look like they will be better this year but everything that will accomplish that (Car design etc…) were all done well before Ron came back as CEO, He will take/get all the credit for ‘saving’ the team though.

        THe McLaren of 2009-2013 under Whitmarsh was no different to the McLaren of 94-97 & 2000-2008 under Ron Dennis. Car often quick but let down by team screw-ups, unreliability & driver error.
        Sure 2013 was a poor year, A poor year caused by the pull rod front suspension layout which they never got working. That caused instability & setup problems. Had Ron been in charge they would have had the exact same struggles.
        Would Ron been in charge have prevented Hamilton from having highly inconsistent seasons in 2011 where he made a lot of stupid mistakes which cost the team points?

        Anyone expecting McLaren to dramatically be the team to beat once again just because Ron’s back as CEO are going to be in for disappointment.

  11. OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 7th March 2014, 6:52

    Rather than having multiple articles on McLaren, can we have a single article for similar situations in future, thank you.

  12. Albrecht said on 7th March 2014, 8:03

    If McLaren starts winning/being on podiums again soon in the 2014 season, woudn’t that Whitmarsh’s work rather than Dennis’?

    I must admit I’m a bit annoyed about the recent flux of Dennis talk, from him and about him. It’s like he was some kind of flawless messiah under who the team has success guaranteed, while Whitmarsh complete useless. Neither of which are remotely close to the truth. There again, in the internet things are always black or white.

  13. Strontium (@strontium) said on 7th March 2014, 17:48

    So I’m guessing Whitmarsh was a distraction then!

    Is another one going to be Tooned? :(

  14. Hubis (@hubis) said on 9th March 2014, 22:31

    After disastrous 2013, without a podium even, anyone would bring up Mclaren. Can’t go any more down really with the budget they got + Mercedes engine. Anyway Ron had a few years off F1 which is defo good thing for the team.

  15. It’s obvious that since one of the biggest teams in F1 has come into a situation were they have difficulties getting a main sponsor they had to make changes at the top. Since Dennis has all those championships behind him his value as a leader is what can guarantee them to become attractive again. On the other hand, he was there shedding tears as they got their fine. So his value is not without question. Maybe therefore he choose not to became team principle again. Maybe it was Flavio Briatores leaderstyle and morale that was spreading among the teams at that time. After all, he has spent several years in prison before his F1 years. I think this has been a much bigger crisis than then want to admit at McLaren and in a few years time the whole McLaren teams existence would have been at stake if they had not made the changes.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.