McLaren’s maestro Ron Dennis steps downJanuary 17th, 2009 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS
Woking (Britain), Jan 17 (DPA) The announcement by Ron Dennis Friday that he is stepping down from his post as team principal of McLaren-Mercedes from March 1 marks the end of a stellar career that has spanned four decades in motorsport.Although Dennis will continue working for McLaren, he will not be travelling to every race and his post will be taken over by McLaren- Mercedes Chief Executive Officer Martin Whitmarsh.
“It was time that Martin took over this position. It was my own decision,” he said.
Dennis, a father of three who separated from his wife Liza last year after 22 years of marriage, entered motorsport in 1966 as a mechanic for F1 driver Jochen Rindt before leading his own Formula 2 team in the 1970s.
In 1981, he took over the helm at McLaren and in the subsequent 28 years celebrated 10 drivers’ titles and seven constructors’ crowns.
His first success came with Niki Lauda’s title win in 1984, which was quickly followed by the team’s heyday with superstars Ayrton Senna of Brazil and Frenchman Alain Prost. Mika Hakkinen, and most recently last season Lewis Hamilton, also enjoyed titles with McLaren.
“He played a pivotal role in my life,” said Hamilton.
“Ron is not retiring, he is only stepping aside. We have a great team and form a very good unit. Ron was an important factor for the team. He will always remain an important part of the team.”
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug said: Ron used his creativity, his focus and his unbending will to ensure victory,” said Haug, adding that he also had no problem “showing his edges.”
Denis had a reputation of being somewhat aloof amongst the drivers and was once described as “a monolith of arrogance” by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
But Haug said he was vital to McLaren’s success on the track: “He will always be an important part of the team.”
There was speculation about Dennis’ future as team boss in 2007 around the spying affair with Ferrari for which Mclaren were stripped of all constructors points that years and fined $100 million by the ruling body FIA.
But Dennis insisted he alone would decide on the perfect time to call it a day in the top position and promised: “Should I step down I will do that with a world title.”
Denis continues to own 15 per cent of McLaren despite selling another 15 per cent in January 2007 to the Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company.