26 April 2013
Dennis insists rumours are wrong
Ron Dennis has dismissed speculation that his powers at McLaren have been scaled back by fellow shareholders.
Ron Dennis has played down suggestions that his influence at the wider McLaren Group has been scaled back as a result of losses on its roadcar arm.
German magazine Auto Motor und Sport claimed overnight that Dennis had been stripped of his voting rights, and demoted to the role of non-executive board member because the McLaren Automotive programme that he oversees is losing money, mainly due to the poor take-up for its eye-catching MP4-12C and P1 sportscars.
With the Bahrain-based Mumtalakat Holdings now exerting greater influence over the McLaren Group, it was being reported that the 65-year old Dennis might even find himself ousted from the company altogether, but official sources claim that that is far from the truth.
According to McLaren, the German story was wide of the mark, and Dennis remains chairman of the various boards within the wider group of companies, including both the F1 team and McLaren Automotive. He does currently hold a non-executive role, but that was by mutual agreement dating back over the last couple of years. His existing contract runs through to the end of next year.
"My position for the first three years of my contract was executive chairman,” he told BBC Sport, "At my request - I drafted the contract and agreed terms - my role went from executive chairman to non-executive chairman in January 2013. The difference in the job is I don't have accountability for the actions of the management. I am the chairman of both of the boards - it gives me formal obligations - and a significant shareholder."
During his time at the head of the F1 team, which began in 1981 and ended when he handed over the reins to Martin Whitmarsh in 2009, Dennis guided McLaren to ten drivers' and seven constructors' titles, and oversaw the golden – if troubled - era where Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna piloted its cars. It was another time of strife that eventually precipitated his reign, as the Lewis Hamilton/Fernando Alonso season culminated in the 'spygate' scandal.
Having overseen the creation of the F1 road car in the 1990s, Dennis was seen as the perfect candidate to oversee McLaren's return to the market when it planned the MP4-12C two years ago, but sales of that model and its new sister, the P1, have only been around 50 per cent of the figures expected.
According to BBC Sport, there had also been rumours that Dennis was trying to engineer a return to the F1 team, at the expense of Whitmarsh, following its poor start to 2013, but he dismissed those as 'ridiculous'.
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