The 35-year tenure of Ron Dennis at the helm of McLaren has come to end after shareholders called for him to give up his position as chairman and chief executive of McLaren Group.
After failing in a High Court bid last week to prevent McLaren putting him out to pasture, the 69-year-old admitted he was “disappointed” and declared the move to oust him as being “entirely spurious.”
While he may own 25% of McLaren Group and will remain on the boards of both McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive, he will no longer be acting in a capacity of influence over the company’s future.
According to Dennis, the decision was “forced through” by main shareholders “despite the strong warnings from the rest of the management team about the potential consequences of the actions on the business.”
Dennis’ ‘autocratic’ management style has been mooted as a possible reason for calls for him to relinquish his post, while it appears he seems to have lost the backing of long-time business partner Mansour Olijeh (who also owns 25% of McLaren Group) along with that of Bahrain investment fund Mumtalakat.
Under his leadership, Dennis propelled McLaren to phenomenal success, boasting ten drivers’ titles and seven constructors’ championships, overtaking Ferrari to become the dominant force in Formula 1 at the same time.
The success he has instilled upon the racing outfit is not in doubt, it is more a question of how much of a negative impact on McLaren’s future he would have if left unchallenged in his former position.
However, Dennis is adamant he’s the right man for the job: “My management style is the same as it has always been and is one that has enable McLaren to become an automotive and technology group that has won twenty Formula 1 World Championships and grown into a £850m-a-year business,” as per BBC Sport.
He went on to say that TAG and Mumtalakat do not “share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential” and that he intends to “launch a new technology fund once my contractual commitments with McLaren expire.”
Having been at the company since 1980, his name commands a lot of respect within the world of Formula 1, and even though he took charge just a year later and led the team through a period of unchallenged success, it is more than likely his recent decision-making has played a factor in his unfortunate demise.
Many will also question the judgment to let designer Paddy Lowe and engine supplier Mercedes leave, along with Lewis Hamilton, as all three are experiencing huge success together – something Dennis clearly did not envisage.
McLaren endured their worst ever season in 2015 when Dennis made the decision to join forces with engine partner Honda – a deal widely seen as premature and ultimately ended in massive failure.
He also failed to replace title sponsors Vodafone after they parted ways in 2013 and has struggled to land deals with major sponsors, casting further doubts on his ability to transition into the digital age.
Dennis oversaw the most successful period in the company’s history, being at the head of the outfit for 17 of the 20 title wins McLaren has to its name, but even his impressive past record has been unable to prevent him losing his job.
McLaren haven’t won a World Championship since 2008 when Lewis Hamilton was still with the team, but ever since the Briton’s departure four years later, Dennis has found it impossible to return the once-feared motor-racing outfit back to its halcyon days – a failure that has undeniably cost him his job.
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