F1 »

Dennis: Whitmarsh better than me at driver management

Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has praised his successor Martin Whitmarsh for succeeding in one of the few areas in which he had notably failed - effectively managing two world champions inside the team
Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has conceded that his successor in the role, Martin Whitmarsh, is 'better' than he was at successfully handling the delicate balancing-act of having two F1 World Champions inside the same team.

Dennis was at the helm of McLaren from 1981 until the beginning of 2009, and during that period the Englishman presided over two of the most fractious, bitter and ultimately destructive internecine rivalries seen in the sport's history – Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988 and 1989, and Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in 2007. Although neither Senna nor Hamilton were world champions when they arrived at the team, they soon would be.

Renowned as something of a control freak and a man utterly obsessed by attention-to-detail, Dennis also struggled to establish any kind of rapport with the free-spirited, happy-go-lucky Kimi Raikkonen, a driver who spent several seasons trying and failing to clinch the crown with McLaren – and then proceeded to lift the laurels first time out with Ferrari after leaving the Woking-based outfit at the end of 2006.

In the light of the fact that lessons had palpably not been learned in the intervening two decades between Senna/Prost and Alonso/Hamilton, there was some apprehension expressed when reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button joined his compatriot at McLaren last year – meaning Whitmarsh was tasked with keeping happy the sport's most recent two title-winners, and two men who would only be happy if they were beating the other.

Against all expectations, the line-up has worked – and for that, Whitmarsh merits significant praise. The only small blot on the landscape was Istanbul, when Hamilton was unimpressed that Button had the audacity to overtake him for the lead when the team had assured him he would not – but that aside, the relationship between the two Brits has been a largely harmonious one. Dennis acknowledges that his erstwhile long-time deputy deserves a great deal of credit for the part he has played in establishing such an entente cordiale.

“Managing the co-habitation of two world champions is often a challenge,” the 63-year-old told French magazine F1i. “I have tried it a few times. Martin is perhaps showing himself to be better than me at that role.”

Indeed, Whitmarsh's naturally adaptable and conciliatory approach – as opposed to the rather more entrenched and confrontational nature of his predecessor – means he is also likely to remain as chairman of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) this year, as the organisation prepares itself to discuss the terms of the new governing Concorde Agreement, scheduled to take effect from the end of 2012.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Thursday, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 and Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Race, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 3rd position  and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 2nd position
Race, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Race celebration, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 race winner and Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Saturday, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren
Friday Practice1, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer
Race celebration, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 race winner, Ron Dennis (GBR)
Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal, Australian F1 Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, 27-29th, March, 2009
Ron Dennis, Chairman & CEO, McLaren Group & Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal, McLaren Mercedes
18.09.2014 - Scuderia Ferrari F14-T
18.09.2014 - McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
18.09.2014 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
18.09.2014 - Mercedes AMG F1 W05
18.09.2014 - McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
18.09.2014 - McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
18.09.2014 - McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
18.09.2014 - Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM07
18.09.2014 - Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-29

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.