Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has revealed who he rates as the finest drivers during his time at the Woking-based outfit – and reflected upon the highlight and lowest point of his three decades at the helm.
Dennis established himself as one of the most successful team managers in F1 history by guiding McLaren to no fewer than 17 world championship crowns – ten drivers' laurels and seven constructors' trophies – during his tenure in charge from 1981 to early 2009.
Over that period, the Englishman hired some of the most illustrious drivers the sport has ever seen, including the likes of Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – world champions all. Asked to pick the cream of the crop, he narrows it down to three.
“Mika I choose for his honesty, Lewis for his uncompromising attitude and Ayrton because of his passion,” he mused, speaking to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
As to the zenith and nadir of his leadership, Dennis – who remains heavily involved with McLaren as executive chairman of McLaren Automotive and the McLaren Group, in addition to holding a significant stake in both companies – pinpointed his first title with Lauda in 1984 and Hakkinen's terrifying, near-fatal Australian Grand Prix practice accident eleven years later.
“The finest moment?” the 63-year-old pondered. “Of course I should say it was the last championship with Lewis, but for me it was the first one with Niki. The worst was when I had to go to a hospital in Adelaide after Mika's accident. There was a possibility that a driver had died in my car. Fortunately, that never happened.”