Dennis retakes control of McLaren F1 team

Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:56pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Martin Whitmarsh's future as McLaren Formula One team principal was in doubt on Thursday with the announcement that his predecessor Ron Dennis was replacing him as group chief executive.

In what some saw as an internal coup, McLaren said in a statement that the 66-year-old Dennis was effectively regaining overall control of the former world champions he ran from 1982 to 2009.

The Briton will combine Whitmarsh's duties as Group CEO with his existing role of Group chairman and head of the McLaren Automotive sportscar division.

Dennis, who presided over some of the greatest years in the team's history with champions such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, had relinquished his role of Group CEO in 2012 but had increasingly chafed at the team's poor performances on the racetrack.

The team's last championship was with Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and they have not won a constructors' title since 1998.

McLaren endured a dismal season last year, failing to finish on the podium for the first time since 1980. Jenson Button's fourth place in the final race of the season in Brazil was their best result.

The team will be powered by Mercedes this year but will be renewing their partnership with Honda in 2015 and hoping for a return to former glories.

Speculation last month suggested Dennis, who has a 25 percent stake in McLaren, wanted to regain control and replace Whitmarsh as principal.   Continued...

Ron Dennis, executive chairman of McLaren Automotive, sits on a MP4-12C during the opening of the first North American McLaren Automotive dealership in Beverly Hills, California January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni