F1 » 1 January 1901
Ron and Lisa Dennis to split.
Following the appearance of speculation in various areas of the media, Ron and Lisa Dennis have issued a statement confirming that they are to end their long marriage.
One of Formula One's more recognisable couples, the Dennises have been together for 22 years, but a breach of confidence forced them to issue a brief statement early on Friday to confirm the sad news.
"Following the reporting of a matter that my wife Lisa and I had hoped would remain confidential at this time, we have decided to announce our separation after 22 years of marriage," the missive read, "Inevitably, the process is a difficult one for us and our three children, and we hope and trust that the media will respect that it should also therefore remain a private one. Neither Lisa nor I will be making any further statements on this matter."
There has been considerable strain placed on Dennis over the past year, not least with the hectic nature of running one of the foremost teams in Formula One, and the globe-trotting life that entails, but also after McLaren became embroiled in the protracted espionage affair with Ferrari and had to endure the fall-out of an acrimonious relationship between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Although Dennis insisted throughout that he had no knowledge of the underhand dealings that saw chief designer Mike Coughlan fired for accepting confidential information from Ferrari's Nigel Stepney, he later had to admit that the problem went deeper into the organisation than he had originally been aware of. The matter eventually went before the World Motor Sport Council - not once, but twice - and resulted in the team being stripped of all its constructors' points and fined a record $100m.
Although its two drivers went unpunished, they did not enjoy the harmonious relationship that Dennis had been hoping for when he first paired double world champion Alonso with rookie upstart Hamilton, and the acrimony reached a nadir in Hungary when each attempted to scupper the other's qualifying attempt. Alonso was punished for his part, and then confronted Dennis on race day demanding preferential treatment lest he reveal previously undisclosed details relating to the espionage affair. Dennis took the decision to tell the FIA of Alonso revelation, ultimately leading to the WMSC's punishment. Alonso eventually returned to Renault for 2008.
The stresses of the season led to speculation that Dennis would step back from his team principal role, allowing right-hand man Martin Whitmarsh to take greater control of the team's day-to day operations, but that has yet to happen. There have also been stories linking DaimlerChrysler, parent company of engine supplier Mercedes, to a possible takeover of McLaren, but that too has yet to come to fruition.
The Dennises frequently attended grands prix together, with American-born Lisa often caught on camera watching proceedings from the McLaren garage. The couple were avid charity fund-raisers, championing the Tommy's campaign, and even ventured into the literary world, producing a series of books for children based on racing car characters called Mac and Lauren. They have three children.
News of the impending Dennis divorce follows hot on the heels of similar revelations from one of McLaren's favourite drivers, Mika Hakkinen, after reports in the German press claimed that he was to split from wife Erja. The pair married at the height of Hakkinen's F1 career in 1998 and the union resulted in two children.
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