2 September 2013
Dennis: Fighting spirit still manifested in today’s McLaren
Having taken the reins, Dennis oversaw seven constructors' and ten drivers' titles before moving over to McLaren Automotive, and is proud of what he helped the team – formed by Bruce McLaren in a cramped workshop on 2 September 1963 – become.
“In terms of Bruce McLaren himself, I didn't really know him, as our paths didn't really cross, but, of course he and I were in F1 at the same time,” Dennis reflected, “I started at Cooper's in 1966, the same year he brought Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd into F1, so I like to think there's a nice symmetry there.
“Then as now, [the team principal's] most important attribute is the ability to provide authoritative leadership coupled with strong commercial astuteness and a total commitment to the team,” he noted, “ In fact, to be successful, the F1 team must become your entire life; only then are you able to create the conditions in which engineers, designers and of course drivers can deliver their very best.
“I always tried to provide a firm but sensitive guiding hand, to ensure that they remained fully focused and productive. Engineers and designers love to investigate technical complexities, some of which may be blind alleys, so they require some direction. But that's not a bad thing. On the contrary, you want your engineers and designers to have enquiring minds. It's then your job, as the team boss, to channel that creative energy in a way that generates optimal team and car performance.
“So, yes, it's certainly true that some of the big-name engineers and designers in McLaren's past not only created some of the most iconic and successful racing cars in F1 history, but they also changed the game, introducing new ideas, new technologies and new practices that revolutionised automotive design. That's quite a claim to fame – and I'm proud of their efforts. But, in order for them to be able to work effectively, they needed inspirational leadership and intelligent management. I did my best to try to provide that.
“However, as I often say, I'm only a chapter in the book. There will be many more chapters in the future, and I firmly believe that our greatest successes are yet to come.
“Today, we aren't currently achieving as much on-track success as we'd like, but our matrix system is empowering more people to deliver across the many different performance areas of our F1 car than in the past. It's a clever system that was originated in aerospace companies and was adopted by Martin Whitmarsh and Jonathan Neale. It's providing a solid base to our operations, which will enable us once again to achieve success in the future.
“That's a cultural aspect of our organisation of which I'm enormously proud.”
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