LONDON – Ron Dennis, the veteran head of the McLaren Formula One team, has been forced out following a boardroom dispute.
The announcement on Tuesday brings to an end Dennis’ 36-year stay with the British team, relinquishing his position as chairman and chief executive of one of Formula One’s most successful teams.
Dennis attacked the “entirely spurious” reasons for the decision.
“I am disappointed that the representatives of TAG and Mumtalakat, the other main shareholders in McLaren, have forced through this decision to place me on gardening leave, despite the strong warnings from the rest of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business,” Dennis said in a statement. “The grounds they have stated are entirely spurious; my management style is the same as it has always been and is one that has enabled McLaren to become an automotive and technology group that has won 20 Formula One world championships and grown into an 850 million-pound ($1 billion) a year business.
“Throughout that time I have worked closely with a series of talented colleagues to keep McLaren at the cutting edge of technology, to whom I will always be extremely grateful.”
Dennis holds a 25 per cent stake in the McLaren Technology Group. Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh also holds 25 per cent of the business, with the remaining 50 per cent in the hands of Bahrain sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat.
“Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential,” said Dennis, who has been involved with McLaren since 1980. “But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees. I will continue to use my significant shareholding in both companies and my seats on both boards to protect the interests and value of McLaren and help shape its future.”
Dennis stood down as McLaren team principal in 2009 but returned as chief executive five years later.
The Englishman oversaw Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s historic tussle for the title as McLaren drivers in 1988 and 1989 before Mika Hakkinen clinched back-to-back championships with the Woking-based outfit in 1998 and 1999. Hamilton also won his first title in only his second year in the sport as a McLaren driver back in 2008.
But the British team’s success has dried up in recent years, and their renewed relationship with Japanese engine manufacturer Honda has failed to provide a return to winning ways. Fernando Alonso was only 10th at the recent Japanese Grand Prix while his teammate Jenson Button crossed the line in last position.