Ron Dennis has relinquished his role as McLaren chairman and chief executive following a board meeting today.
The announcement that he is stepping down as chief executive and group chairman follows a bitter boardroom row with Mansour Ojjeh, who, like Dennis owns 25% of McLaren, and Mumtalakat, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund, who own the remaining 50%.
“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 of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business,” Dennis said in a statement.
“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 £850m a year business.”
Dennis is a well know figure in Formula 1 and is synonymous with the McLaren outfit he guided to serial success during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the team have fallen on fallow times since the turn of the century and have won just one title, Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 Drivers’ World Championship.
Combative, meticulous and hugely respected, Dennis could also be a divisive figure inside the sport. Two years after the Spygate scandal which resulted in McLaren being fined $100m, Dennis stood down as team principal in 2009 but returned in place of Martin Whitmarsh in 2014.
“Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither AG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential,” added Dennis.
“But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees.”
Dennis, 69, is the architect of the modern McLaren and during his tenure as team principal, between 1981 and 2009 won 10 Drivers’ and seven Constructors’ Championships. He is also credited for mentoring Lewis Hamilton’s arrival in F1.
After handing over the reins to Whitmarsh following Hamilton’s 2008 title win, Dennis returned as CEO in 2014 and oversaw a management restructure which resulted in the departure of his successor.
He has also overseen the successful launch of a sportscar arm and the diversification of McLaren into a wider technology company.
He now plans to launch a new technology investment fund once his departure from McLaren is completed.
“I intend to launch a new technology investment fund once my contractual commitments with McLaren expire,” Dennis statement continued.
“This will capitalise on my expertise, my financial resources, together with external investment to pursue the many commercial opportunities I have been offered in recent years but have been unable to take up while being so committed to the existing business.”
Whitmarsh, Ross Brawn and marketing guru Zak Brown have been touted as potential replacements for Dennis.
But the team already have Eric Boullier in position as team principal while Jost Capito, the former director of motorsport at Volkswagen, started work as the team’s chief executive officer in September.
Prior to joining McLaren two years ago, Boullier was team boss at Renault, then known as Lotus, where he forged a successful working relationship with James Allison. Following’s Allison exit from Ferrari earlier this season, speculation has surfaced in recent weeks the pair could be reunited at McLaren.