It was announced yesterday evening that Ron Dennis has stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of the McLaren Technology Group following a shareholders meeting on Tuesday.
Dennis, who has been involved with McLaren since 1980, has been placed on gardening leave until his contract expires in mid-January. Dennis had unsuccessfully tried to seek a High Court injunction to prevent a move from taking place.
Dennis owns 25 percent of McLaren group; long-time business partner Mansour Ojjeh owns the other 25 percent, with Bahrain’s Mumtalakat investment fund holding the controlling 50 per cent. In a defiant statement confirming the news, Dennis said other shareholders had “forced through” his departure despite warnings of dire consequences.
The statement from Dennis said the following:-
“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 at the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business.
“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 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.
“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. But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees.”
Dennis went on further to state that he will retain his shareholding in the group but his statement hints he already has plans beyond McLaren. Dennis added the following:-
“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.
“This will capitalise on my expertise, my financial resources, together with external investment to pursue the many commercial opportunities I have been altered in recent years but have been unable to take up while being so committed to the existing business.”
There is no denying that Dennis helped turn McLaren into a force in Formula One, spearheading several periods of dominance and winning multiple world championships along the way. He played a pivotal role in securing Honda engines to replace Mercedes in 2015.
However, that partnership has failed to live up to the iconic McLaren-Honda glory days of old. Dennis was also unable to secure a title sponsor to replace Vodafone, which stopped its affiliation in 2013.
But despite what has happened; there is no denying that Dennis has left his mark and legacy in a sport that has shaped him as a businessman, as an F1 team owner but more importantly as a person. He has brought new levels of professionalism, intellect, skill, passion, grit and determination into the sport as a whole but also to McLaren, a team that has shaped and enhanced his passion for Formula One more deeply than he never thought he would imagine.
I wish Ron all the best for the future and also in his future endeavours; Formula One (especially McLaren) will never be the same without you.