Big Ron back on deck at McLaren

Ron Dennis

There’s been big changes at McLaren with expectations the bloodletting has only just begun. First, Ron Dennis returns to the role of McLaren Group CEO, a position he left in 2012. In doing so he has displaced Martin Whitmarsh, the man who replaced him.

Dennis comes with a promise to “undertake a thorough and objective review” and to “implement the organisational structure” required to achieve his new world order.

For now Whitmarsh keeps his role as McLaren’s Team Principal but you don’t have to look too hard to find plenty of speculation that Whitmarsh will soon be freed from the tight constraints of Woking.

While we’re riding a few bandwagons let’s get on board the wagon carrying Ross Brawn, right into Whitmarsh’s Team Principal role. At lest that’s the opinion now being shared by The Telegraph.

So what’s driving these changes? The relentless and ruthless chase for success. McLaren, one of the most successful F1 teams of all time, did not score a single podium in 2013. Worse, it hasn’t won a constructor’s championship for almost 15 years. And it’s now five years since Lews Hamilton won the driver’s crown.

There hasn’t appeared to be a groundswell of disharmony coming from Woking, but with their tightly controlled ship who really knows. Certainly the return of Dennis, announced with a stirring speech from 66-year-old, seems to have captured the staff’s imagination.

“So inspired by Ron speech yesterday! Let’s start exciting new chapter in McLaren again! #BelieveInRon,” tweeted design engineer Giovanni Banzola.

While Clare Martin, head race and test coordinator, added: “Think it’s safe to say today’s news was received well! #BelieveInRon”.

How serious are the claims of Brawn’s return to Formula 1, just a few weeks after departing Mercedes? Well, he probably didn’t expect the possibility of an opportunity opening up with McLaren. Is Brawn’s relationship with Honda, who will power McLaren’s cars again in 2015, such that it could be contributing factor in joining McLaren. Or will a mutual respect and a recent conversation with Dennis be enough for that?

We should have answers to all of these questions, and perhaps even more, before the Australian Grand Prix in mid-March.

Ron Dennis CBE Appointed Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group

WOKING, SURREY, UK – 16th January 2014 – McLaren Group today announced that Ron Dennis CBE, Chairman of McLaren Group, has been appointed to the additional role of Group Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group, with immediate effect. Mr Dennis, a shareholder of McLaren since 1980 and the architect of its modern era, was the CEO of the Group from 1982 to 2012 and the Team Principal of the McLaren Formula 1 racing team from 1982 to 2009 before becoming Chairman of the Group in 2013.

Following his appointment today, Mr Dennis said, ‘My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance. Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them. During February, I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it. I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective – which is to win at whatever we do.’

Mr Dennis will remain Chairman of McLaren Automotive, the marque’s successful high-performance road car company.