Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dennis: Suggesting I was pushed is idiotic

Friday 30th January 2009

Ron Dennis has slammed suggestions that he jumped before being pushed out of the job as McLaren team boss as "fatuous."

The last few years of Dennis's reign as McLaren team boss have been marred with as many lows as highs and plenty of rumours of his impending retirement.

The rumours began in 2004 when he was accused by many in F1 of taking his eye off the track by devoting his attention to McLaren's £250m technical centre, Paragon, when he should have been focusing on much-needed results.

The Brit's situation worsened three years later when his team was accused and found guilty by the FIA of being in unauthorised possession of Ferrari's secret technical data.

It was a low point in the 61-year-old's career with the team boss later admitting to being the one who ratted McLaren out to FIA President Max Mosley. McLaren were handed a record $100 million fine by motorsport's governing body and once again questions were raised about Dennis's future.

However, it wasn't until January this year that the rumours finally became fact as he announced that he would be standing down as McLaren team boss on March 1st.

And despite leaving the team on a high-note after Lewis Hamilton's triumph in last year's Drivers' Championship questions are still being asked.

Interviewed by the official F1 website, Dennis was asked: 'When did you come to the decision that 2008 would be your last season as team principal? Or, to ask you directly, was it a case of jumping before you were pushed?'

And the McLaren shareholder clearly wasn't too happy about it.

"With respect, the second part of your question is fatuous: I'm a shareholder in the McLaren Group, I'm not an employee," he said.

"Besides, I'm glad to say that, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, I enjoy the full support of every other McLaren Group shareholder - which is to say, Daimler, the Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company, and my business partner and friend of many years, Mansour Ojjeh.

"And, for the avoidance of doubt, I forewarned those shareholders of my intention to pass the team principal position down to Martin in advance of making it public on January 16.

"It's well known that in early 2007 I'd privately decided to pass the team principal position down to Martin at the end of that year - but, because of some of the off-track difficulties we experienced that year, I changed my mind.

"I changed my mind for the simple reason that the situation had changed and it wouldn't therefore have been the right time to do it.

"But, after the triumphs of our 2008 season - which saw not only Lewis Hamilton being crowned world champion but also the inauguration of (Formula One Teams Association) FOTA, in which organisation McLaren and Ferrari have been working extremely closely together - I felt that the time was right.

"That being the case, I felt the best time to announce my decision was at the launch of our 2009 car, in front of the cream of the world's motorsport journalists, many of whom I've known personally for many years and some of whom I count as good friends."

No comments: