Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alonso hails 'not-best-friend' Dennis

Tuesday 20th January 2009

Fernando Alonso has put to one side past acrimony with Ron Dennis by hailing the impact the McLaren boss has had on Formula One.

Dennis caused a stir at the launch of his team's new car on Friday by announcing his intention to step down as team principal as of March 1, with second-in-command Martin Whitmarsh assuming the role.

The 61-year-old was at pains to point out he is not retiring, that he will instead be diversifying his duties, and that he will continue to attend grands prix.

And although Dennis will remain in the background, his decision to give up a position he has held since 1981 nevertheless represents a significant changing of the guard at McLaren.

As for Alonso, who suffered an ignominious fall-out with Dennis during an ill-fated season with McLaren in 2007, his comments also represent a considerable thawing of previously frosty relations.

"We are not best friends, but there is respect for each other," said Alonso, speaking yesterday at the launch at the Algarve Motor Park of Renault's new car for the forthcoming campaign.

"It wasn't a perfect end to our relationship, but I know how much he has done for Formula One, and there are not many people like Ron any more.

"Now we have teams with rich people who have come in and bought them, or we have big manufacturers.

"But Ron is a throwback to the old days - one guy developing the team and growing up with them, turning them into a success, winning Championships.

"So I wish him all the best for his new life.

"After so many years in Formula One with a successful team, at the top, it is not easy to cope with the pressure."

Flavio Briatore, who has on many occasions been at loggerheads with Dennis, echoed Alonso's sentiments.

"Ninety per cent of the time we have not agreed because we have had different views about Formula One," said the flamboyant 58-year-old Italian.

"But over the last 20 years he has built up an incredible company.

"You don't have to be friends, but I've a lot of respect for what he has done, in particular in the last six to seven months.

"McLaren have given up a lot. Within FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) we've a few teams who have done an incredible job.

"Ron Dennis has been one of the biggest supporters of FOTA, one of the big players, completely changing the position of McLaren.

"So my respect over the last few months has grown for him even more because if one person has stepped back in the interests of Formula One, it has been Ron Dennis."

Source : Planet F1

No comments: