I have been trying to digest all the Ron Dennis stuff that came out in the past few days. And something does not add up here …
First there is the stunning turnaround by McLaren team with the admission and apology and all that. But the name under it is not Ron Dennis but the heir apparent Martin Whitmarsh. And in that apology, there is also a passge:
“Apart from the morale-sapping consequences within the team, its ability to continue its task of generating investment has been made virtually impossible. Consequently, the long-term damage to the team’s previously outstanding record and commercial capability is significantly greater than that potentially envisaged by the fiscal penalty imposed.”
It somehow suggests, that the USD100 million fine hurts more than Ron Dennis has ever admitted.
And as if that fine was not enough, the team will also have to pay £1m bill for the FIA’s investigation into the legality of McLaren’s 2008 car.
It is and it probably will remain unclear how much of the humble aplogy is sincere and how much of it is just there to appease Max Mosley and close the whole matter. But it shows one thing – in contrary to Dennis’ tearful summer words “I live and breathe this team. And there is no way anything incorrect has taken place here”, something incorrect did take place. And his pride and insistence on contrary at the end resulted in the huge fine and unnecessary further costly investigation. He might have sincerely believed his team did no wrong, but he should have done more to make sure that was the case.
His failure to do so may have another consequence for 2008 season – the car competitivness. If the 2008 McLaren car was truly on course to implement some of the knowledge acquired from Stepney/Coughlan think tank, the proposed moratorium means that McLaren’s car development faces several months set back. Dennis has known since September that the car will be investigated and it looks like he did not do enough to seek the actual facts from within his own team. Or did some people within the team do enough to hide the truth from the team principal ? Either way these are not exactly signs of a man in control…
Then the Heikki Kovalainen signing comes around and same as with the apology it was Martin Whitmarsh who made the announcement.
It did not take too long for rumours to begin. And then it did not take too long for Ron Dennis to re-appear to deny them:
“I’m not going to quit. That is 100 per cent. I know there are people out there who want me to retire, but I’m not. I do not think it would be in the best interests of the team.”
It would be interesting to know who are the “people out there”. Does he mean FIA and Mosley or does he mean people within the team and the team backers ?
Is the fact that the last 2 important annoucements from McLaren came from Martin Whitmarsh something significant or just a normal sign of Ron Dennis having holidays (while the team negotiates with a new driver) ?
And final note – When he talks about the “best interest of the team”, is it in the best interest of the team to continue being run by a person that is unable to communicate with FIA and does not know what is happening within the team ?