Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Where is Ron Dennis? // A look at Formula One without one of its elder statesmen

Published by Jeremy

McLaren Technology Centre

I've been a McLaren fan since Ayrton Senna joined the team in the late 1980s. They have been a frustrating team to follow at times, but over the years, I have developed a liking for Ron Dennis. He seems to be a perfectionist, bringing a clinical precision to Formula 1 that appealed to my Apple (Steve Jobs) influenced personality.

I rejoiced in Ron's clever plan that brought Lewis Hamilton to the top of the sport and was bitterly disappointed when the title went begging in his first year. I marvel at the McLaren Technology Centre and feel Ron's pain when I read that employees don't understand how disappointed he is that they have dented a chequer plate panel in a service elevator through carelessness.

The sport of Formula 1 is in crisis at the moment, and the popular opinion is that the teams are ready to fight against the perceived mismanagement by FOM, and the FIA. The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) recently lost a key member when Ron stepped away from the McLaren Formula One team to concentrate his efforts on the road car division.

The public perception is of Ron removing himself from the F1 side of the McLaren business, to help convince the FIA that the culture in the team had changed following a serious charge of lying to the stewards. He had already handed the running of the F1 team over to Martin Whitmarsh (his long standing right hand man), so completely stepping away from the team was not a difficult move to understand. Despite the announcement that the news was a surprise to Lewis Hamilton, it made sense.

I've heard nothing of Ron's whereabouts for a while. The reported disconnection with Lewis has been playing on my mind, and the thought that 'we the public' never really know what's going on in F1, keeps bringing me back to the suspicion of other forces at play.

Is Ron preparing for a role in the possible F1 breakaway series? Or even a role at the FIA in a few years time, as was rumoured for Jean Todt when he left Ferrari? Part of me would love to see Bernie Ecclestone (and CVC Capital Partners) lose financial control of the sport to FOTA, and Max Mosley removed from the FIA. I want the teams and circuits to make the amount of money necessary to ensure the continuation of all forms of motor sport, and I want sensible regulation of Formula 1.

McLaren, Ron Dennis and Lewis Hamilton seem to polarise opinions. I would love to hear your thoughts on the questions I have posed, and on the future of Formula 1 governance.