When you have the worst season in decades, you tend to start thinking of a few changes and that’s what McLaren is doing. While a bad season may have signaled a need for change, I suggest that change started with Mansour Ojjeh’s double lung transplant surgery in November and the transfer of his role to his brother, Aziz.

It seems that this turmoil has also seen a renewed role for former CEO Ron Dennis who was recently made group chief executive, which is effectively the role Martin Whitmarsh has held.

Now that those changes have been made, Dennis is back at the helm of the F1 team and made an announcement to the team as Mr. Noble at AUTOSPORT reports:

“My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance,” he said.

“Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.”

That doesn’t bode well for Mr. Whtimarsh. Dennis let it be known that nothing is off the table including a change of team boss in his 20-minute speech to employees.

Could we see Whtimarsh put out to pasture and Ron Dennis back in the chair on the pit wall? Time will tell but something has to give at McLaren as losing Paddy Lowe and Lewis Hamilton haven’t done a thing to enhance their performance. Will removing Whtimarsh see Dennis in the seat or will there be another team boss that fits the bill?

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Knowing how the suits in business treat each other…. I smell a promotion!

  • Mike

    Okay…the scene. Picture The film, Untouchables with DeNiro as Al Capone.
    Now, picture the same setting except in a pristine glass and white boardroom at McLaren. Ron Dennis, like Deniro in the movie, circles the seated F1 management team with a manufacturing F1 trophy in his hands…and the script dialogue goes something like….

    ” A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms, enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Formula One! A man sits alone in his machine. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he sits alone. But on the track, what? Part of a team. Teamwork… accelerates, passes, shifts, brakes, hustles. Part of one big team. Races himself the live-long day, Bruce, Clark, Stewart, Shumi, and so on. If his team don’t place… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.”

    • Tim

      This seems like the “Ron Speak” I’ve heard so much about on the weekly podcast.

      • MIE

        It’s just Ron expressing a quantity of satisfaction at his reinstatement in the Formula 1 team.

    • dude


  • Rapierman

    Sounds like a “Come to Jesus” meeting is about to occur.

  • Glen

    Enter, stage left, Ross Brawn…

  • Meine

    About time they sack Whitmarsh.

    • Shocks & Awe

      If for no other reason than he’s so BORING. Personally I hope Ron has a welcome-back-mankini all wrapped up in a box for the Flav-o-Flavio. More characters in F1!

  • Ajay

    I guess Ross Brawn will take it

  • Schmorbraten

    Sacking Whitmarsh would be a knee-jerk reaction. The results haven’t been great in the last few years, and they’ve given away opportunities they shouldn’t have. But if you look at McLaren’s success over the last 50 years, there have been several periods out of the top three constructors’ positions, most of the time for 3-4 consecutive years. 2013 was just one year outside the top three, and the last time (except 2007, of course) was 2004. So it would be absolutely in tune with McLaren’s – overall – very successful history if they’re now facing some more bad years. What’s indeed unusual over the last years is only that the last constructors’ title was 1998. The biggest WCC gaps before were their first 8 years in the sport until the 1974 title, and the 9 seasons after that before they got on a 10-year roll with 6 championships and 4 years being runner-up. And since then (1991), there’s only been the 1998 constructors’ title. And who ran the team for most of that time? Ron Dennis. So why should he be the saviour now?

  • jonnowoody

    “THIS time, we use our own photocopier.”

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    Word on the “in-the-know” sections of F1 journalism (those who attend races and have contacts in the paddock built up over many years), is that if Ron Dennis was going to put a man from ‘inside McLaren’ into the role of Team Principal to replace Martin Whitmarsh, he would have done that at the formal announcement of him taking the Formula 1 Team CEO position again. There would be no reason to delay the change, if that be the case. The strong whispers in this small crowd of paddock accessed people is that the appointment of a new Team Principal for McLaren will be a person from ‘outside McLaren’, and likely done within a couple of weeks (maybe even for the 2014 car launch next week). Martin Whitmarsh will be moved into the Automotive or Technology sections of the McLaren corp. in a COO like capacity – is the strong expectation. Martin has not been disloyal and has NOT brought any corporate disrepute to McLaren as a business, so it is nigh certain his business talents will be maintained on faith. He is an asset to the McLaren business.

    The candidates within McLaren are not on the table as TP replacement (the expectation). So don’t fear Sam Michael, Jonathan Neale and others inside McLaren already are not up for the TP spot. That goes for Ron Dennis himself NOT taking up the TP role, even temporarily. Neither is a return of a Paddy Lowe or similar talent retrieval from under an existing contract in another team. No current TP is expected to be involved – the contract/legal wrangling involved cost too much in time and money, and delay in TP in charge at McLaren would be a recipe for the McLaren ship to run completely aground, minus any captain.

    So that leaves very few obvious TP role options (if the paddock journo crew whispers are taken to conclusions). Ross Brawn is on gardening leave, and will be at least until mid-2014. Ross Brawn will not take up McLaren’s vacant TP role. Ross wouldn’t want to work under Ron Dennis (ultimate control freak hovering over ultimate independent operator – not!), and he isn’t available anyway by contract exit conditions from Mercedes. So that really only leaves a few possibilities, some comparable F1 experiences to step up, some with similar role experience outside of F1 in other motorsport classes.

    And that is where this little group clams up!
    They won’t go any further to expose what they may know via contacts and “you did not hear this from me” type off the record discussions. Well, at least we are better instructed on who isn’t expected (with insider whispers) to be announced as new McLaren F1 Team Principle.

    Personally, with the crazy shit that been going on in Formula 1 over the last year and half (Kimi Räikkönen back to Scuderia Ferrari, Bernie Ecclestone cornered and indicted and now no longer on F1 Board, Ron Dennis back at McLaren’s F1 CEO helm, etc.) What’s to say that my favourite F1 crazy man Flavio Briattore isn’t on uncle Ron’s TP candidate list. Formual 1 couldn’t get any weirder now could it? Oh… but it could friends…. Jack Flash

    • Rapierman

      What you didn’t say is who YOU think the MOST LIKELY CANDIDATE would be. Any thoughts in that direction?

      • Jack Flash (Aust)

        Paul – I wasn’t writing on what I thought. I was writing to convey what the ‘F1 Journo insiders’ are saying. They fall short (as they always do) of stating ‘who it will be’ in their opinions, but helpfully they express a vast list of ‘who it won’t be’. The candidate list becomes very small after you subtract the ‘who it won’t be’ list.

        Who do I think it will be? I thought it would be Simon Roberts (McLaren COO of F1), but the scribes think I’m wrong. Who else could it be? The Flav? I dunno. JF