Ron Dennis, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2016

Dennis sells his final shares in McLaren and ends his 37-year spell with the team

2017 F1 season

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Ron Dennis has ended his involvement with McLaren after 37 years by selling his final shareholding in the team.

McLaren confirmed on Friday that Dennis had sold his stakes in McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive. The two have now come under the control of a new holding company named McLaren Group.

“I am very pleased to have reached agreement with my fellow McLaren shareholders,” said Dennis in a statement. “It represents a fitting end to my time at McLaren and will enable me to focus on my other interests.”

“I have always said that my 37 years at Woking should be considered as a chapter in the McLaren book, and I wish McLaren every success as it takes the story forward.”

Dennis said his “greatest satisfaction” from his time running McLaren was “the Formula One team’s outstanding racing safety record, which is a tribute to the dedication and efforts of hundreds if not thousands of talented and conscientious employees whom I have had the privilege of leading.”

Dennis joined McLaren in 1980 and transformed the fortunes of the team. He led them to 158 grand prix wins and seven constructors’ championship titles. McLaren drivers, including stars of the sport such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton, took ten world titles between them in the team’s cars.

The 70-year-old was ousted from the team last year following a disagreement at board level which led to the hiring of Zak Brown as executive director.

Dennis said he wishes the team well and “I send my greatest thanks and best wishes to my colleagues in all corners of its business, and at every level of seniority.”

“Truly, they are the best of the best. And, well funded to succeed and grow, and led by an ambitious management team, McLaren is ideally poised to build on the successes that I am so proud to have contributed to during my time leading such a great British group of companies.”

Executive chairman and executive committee principal Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa praised Dennis’s achievements during his leadership of the team.

“As soon as he had taken over the running of the team in the late autumn of 1980, it was immediately clear that here was a man whose ambition to surpass the achievements of all previous Formula 1 team principals would not be checked,” he said.

“Together with Mansour Ojjeh of TAG Group, whom Ron soon introduced to McLaren and whose support has been invaluable to its success for a third of a century, Ron rewrote the record books in the 1980s and 1990s, winning grands prix and world championships as a matter of apparent routine. But it was not routine: it was in fact the result of a lot of clever thinking and a huge amount of extremely hard work.”

“That ethos remains at McLaren, and I am very proud now to be assuming the position of Executive Chairman, alongside Mansour, my fellow executive committee principal, who will continue to work with me to drive McLaren Group forward to new successes.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 43 comments on “Dennis sells his final shares in McLaren and ends his 37-year spell with the team”

    1. He is going to breed budgies

      1. James Hunt did, but for different reasons ;-)

    2. Confirmation they are definatly going back to Mercedes power? ;]

    3. This makes me sad :[

      1. It’s better though than the situation he found himself in since last year.

    4. I wonder what’s he gonna do with £275 million…
      .. seriously I really wish to see him back in F1 in some capacity

      1. Pay £50 million to HMRC for starters.

        1. The payment will be subject to CGT not IT, different rate.

        2. Gary, I believe that Ron Dennis is officially domiciled in Switzerland for his tax affairs, so he probably won’t be paying as much as you might think to HMRC.

    5. Amaizing how things change in 5 years… I wish him the best, it’s a very sad way to end such a sucessful career with the team. They didn’t treat him well, McLaren is what it is because of him, regardless of the recent slump… everything is fixable tho, and who knows where the team and Ron will be in the next 5 years.

    6. His shirts always on point.

      1. Yes, I actually looked at how he dressed (a long some people in my family) as I grew up. Always sharp & on point, sick shirts.

        I WILL miss the Ronspeak, he was well put together.

    7. Missing the ronspeak presently !

      1. @smudgersmith1
        Here’s Ronspeak Collection for you.
        (I read it on Benedict Cumberbatch voice)

      2. Maybe Ron and Bernie could go on a semi-comedy tour – Ronspeak & Bernietalk!

    8. It was a wonderful Journey together.
      You can’t fault his brilliance or dedication.
      But nothing lasts forever.
      You could tell he had long since left.

    9. Ron Dennis will always have the fact that he won more championships with McLaren than the current McLaren will score points this year.

      1. That’s a Beauty!

    10. Scenes when he’s part of the team that buys out Force India

      1. That would be great if he could do a leveraged buy out of Force India/One with that money.
        Go from a minority shareholders to owning a while team and best McLaren in F1.
        He could even build road cars, bit needs a better name though.

        1. One FP5. One – Force Project 5.

          1. Graham (@guitargraham)
            30th June 2017, 13:19

            project force

        2. I still support McLaren now, but if Ron were to start a new team, I’d drop them in a blink of an eye. It’s shameless how the Arabs have treated him, after having build the team and its legacy to what it is today.

      2. Force Ron?

    11. So…..when are we going to see the Project 4 name again?

    12. I was and still am a big Ron Dennis fan. The amount of success the team experienced under his leadership placed McLaren among the great teams in the sport.
      Best wishes on his next venture and a sincere thank you for all the years of hard work from a McLaren fan.

    13. Graham (@guitargraham)
      30th June 2017, 12:41

      Project 5 Racing?

    14. I’m no financial expert but I’m guessing it’s not the best time to sell shares in McLaren.

      1. @glynh
        Nothing is guarantee in this business, McLaren struggles could last for a long period of time….

    15. This really is an end of an era. Ron was the name most synonymous with McLaren, and I hoesntly don’t think the team will be the same without the guy. I wish him all the best for his future endeavours, and wish McLaren more luck, they’re definitely gonna need it a lot more now that he’s gone.

        1. It is actually hear, hear. Sorry misspellings really bug me.

          1. Their, their, never mind.

      1. @todfod, whilst he might have been the man whom the team needed in the past, in recent years you have to question whether some of his actions ended up damaging the team.

        Whilst he helped the team secure that long running partnership with Mercedes, it was also his behaviour that eventually drove Mercedes away and into forming their own team. It was also the driving force behind the decision to form the current partnership with Honda, which has failed to deliver what Ron promised they would – allegedly in part because he forced Honda to step into F1 much earlier than they wanted to.

        He might have put the team on a stable financial footing in the past, but in recent years he was criticised for refusing to accept the changed financial realities of the sport and was demanding too much from sponsors. He never delivered the replacement title sponsor he spent years claiming was just around the corner, and declined several offers that ultimately worsened relations with sponsors and drove them away from the team – part of the reason why McLaren is now heavily reliant on Honda putting money into the team (they admit as such in their financial accounts).

        He formed the relationship with Ojjeh and the TAG-Group that, for so long, was the bedrock of the team – yet, eventually, he burned his bridges with them in what appears to have been a self destructive act, the cause of which can be debated at length (be it a personal affair or a business one – though, with Ojjeh and Dennis having been close in the past, the two are somewhat intertwined).

        Ron may have ultimately made the team what it is, but that is for both good and bad – and much though he may have done for the team in the past, there is perhaps a valid argument that he was not the man that the team needed for the future.

        1. It was Martin Whitmarsh that did the Honda deal, in the years after Ron had left the team previously

          1. G, it may have been Whitmarsh’s signature on the agreement, but it was a deal that was being driven from above by Ron Dennis (bear in mind that Ron was still the CEO of the McLaren Group at that time, the parent company of McLaren Racing and the man to whom Whitmarsh ultimately answered to). Perez has hinted in the past that, by 2013, Ron was getting increasingly involved in the running of the team as he moved to push Whitmarsh out, and the resultant infighting was part of the reason why the team performed relatively poorly that year.

        2. @anon – Agree with a lot of what you’re saying regarding the more recent Ron years at McLaren. A fan of the team from its inception, before Ron took over, it is hard to argue against where he took the team and its success for many years. Later some of the same character traits that had helped him in the past betrayed him when times and the sport changed and he did not adapt well. Sometimes an extreme stubborn streak is just what is needed. Other times it can be toxic and possibly even fatal.

          Agree or disagree with Ron and his methods, he certainly could and did make things interesting in F1.

        3. I agree that post 2008 McLaren hasn’t been in the best form. But then again Ferrari is probably a bigger disappointment over the past decade.

          I thought Ron was the man who had the technical and operational knowledge and the vision to get McLaren where it needs to go. His methods were questionable, and they were used as an excuse to oust him when the real problem was the partnership with Honda. a lot of people might not like him, but you cannot argue that he really did taste a lot of success on track and in the road car business. He seemed like a guy who knew all aspects of the motorsport and road car business, which made him a very valuable asset to McLaren.

          I would think McLaren needs someone with his skill set to be within the company again. While I like Zak Brown, I just feel he’s too much of a marketeer and not enough of a product guy. McLaren might gain popularity under Brown’s era, but they won’t gain as much success as they did during Ron Dennis’ era

          1. @todfod, I would say that a number of those issues were still extant prior to the deal with Honda – alienating sponsors, for example, was an issue that has persisted for years under his management.

            He might have a lot of experience of the motorsport industry but, as @bullmello notes, that same obsession that drove him in the past perhaps blinded him to the situation in the present. The sport had changed, and so had his team – as that same management style cost the team a number of their senior technical staff, many of whom shifted across to Mercedes – but he continued with the same stubbornness as if nothing had changed.

            Even with his dealings with Honda, some of those same failings came to the surface – whilst driving Honda hard, at the same time he would refuse to admit to any fault with his cars even whilst his engineers were prepared to admit to Honda’s technical team that the cars weren’t as strong as the senior management were instructed to say they were (such as the MP4-31 suffering from poor rear traction due to an issue with the rear suspension alignment, which the team tried to smother by adding on more rear downforce).
            That pursuit of technical perfection might have worked in the past, but at times in more recent years it came across almost as an assumption of infallibility on his part that was, in some ways, holding back the team.

    16. Hmm.. just enough money to start off the Chinese f1 team and snatch the Merc engines before McLaren does.

    17. “I’ve been thrown out and someone else is going to do a better job and I’m quite sure if I went back I couldn’t do a good a job as they’re going to do. So I shouldn’t go back.”

      Bernie Ecclestone is a very clever guy with lots of contacts in F1. Whether or not he knew about Ron’s imminent departure, and I think he had at least an inkling this would happen, the timing of his interview with ESPN was perfect. What he said could just as easily have been about Ron Dennis as about himself.

    18. It’s the changing of the guard. It’s happening everywhere and mostly needs to. It’s just a shame Ron couldn’t have kept a tiny part of McLaren just for continuity.

      I fear that McLaren (Group) without him will not prosper either, in many ways he IS or rather was, McLaren. Could you imagine Ferrari without Enzo? Williams without Frank? Lotus without Chapman? RonsThese men are giants, and together with Ecclestone, love him or not, you’ll never see their like again.

    19. *Apologies – a random “Rons” got in the works. Now that’s spooky*

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