Ron Dennis inadvertently overshadowed the launch of the new McLaren by revealing that he will be stepping down as team principal as of March 1.
In charge since 1981, Dennis will hand the reins of the race team to Martin Whitmarsh, who has had an increasingly prominent role in recent years. Dennis has said that he wants to be able to devote more time to the overall activities of the McLaren Group, and that he will no longer attend all the races. The 61-year-old insists that he will be taking a step back, and that it won’t be difficult to do so.
“In principle I’ll still be there, I’ll still hopefully be asked for an opinion,” he said. “Perhaps they’ll get it even if they don’t want it! But in the end the decisions as regards our racing team will be Martin’s. It’s not a question of whether it will be difficult. It’s a question of taking the right decision for the group and the future of McLaren. The worst thing anyone can do is tell me what to do. My decision, and it’s solely and exclusively my decision, is based on what is good for McLaren.
“I know McLaren requires all its executives to work harder. And from my perspective my efforts have got to be very much focused on the long-term strategy of the group, growing the group. It’s completely appropriate that Martin becomes team principal at a time when a) we’re coming out of a year of success, and b) I’m still going to be here, and will be for quite some time, to ask opinions of. But I stress again, it’s going to be an opinion, and the decisions are going to be Martin’s.”