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Ron Dennis loses CEO status at McLaren
The 69-year-old seemingly forced out after 35 years with the Woking team
F1 stalwart Ron Dennis has been forced to relinquish his status as chairman and CEO of McLaren Group, following a boardroom power struggle. It brings an end to an era in which he transformed the team into the second most successful outfit in the history of motorsport’s highest tier.
Dennis – who retains a 25 per cent stake in the company – lost a High Court battle to stop fellow shareholders Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahraini Mumtalakat investment fund placing him on gardening leave for the final two months of his contract.
The Briton had hoped to take overall control by buying TAG chief exec Ojjeh and Mumtalakat out of their respective 25 and 50 per cent shares. But a late, Chinese-backed bid to the tune of a reported £1.65bn failed to alter the status quo.
In a statement, Dennis said that he was “disappointed” that his removal had been “forced through”, claiming that the grounds for the move were “entirely spurious”.
“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,” he added. “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.
“In addition I intend to launch a new technology investment fund once my contractual commitments with McLaren expire.”
While Dennis contemplates a future both inside and outside McLaren, he can look back on a career in which he has amassed a personal fortune worth hundreds of millions of pounds having started out as a mechanic with the Cooper F1 team back in 1966 at the age of 18.
His tenure as head of McLaren began in 1981, and since then the team has collected 158 Grands Prix wins, ten drivers’ titles and seven constructors’ crowns.
More recently the group has enjoyed success in the manufacturing industry having established McLaren Automotive as an independent carmaker in 2010, although the F1 programme has fared badly in the same period.
With results waning, the team has been without a title sponsor since Vodafone departed in 2013, and Dennis’s failure to attract a replacement is believed to have confounded fears that his management style – often described as ‘autocratic’ – is incompatible with modern standards.
And by teaming up with Honda in 2015, McLaren aligned themselves with an engine provider that was years behind its rivals in terms of developing hybrid power, leading to their worst ever season last year.
After thanking Dennis for his “colossal” contribution, McLaren Technology Group has confirmed that it is now searching for a new CEO, with F1 commercial figure Zak Brown thought to be the leading contender to fill in for the outgoing chief.
Whoever gets the gig has very big shoes to fill.