Dennis: Decision not linked to FIA case
|By Jonathan Noble and Hilton Holloway||Thursday, April 16th 2009, 12:57 GMT|
Ron Dennis has denied that his decision to step away completely from his involvement in the Formula 1 team is linked to the imminent FIA hearing the team is facing.
The Woking-based outfit is to go in front of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council on April 29 to answer charges that it lied to stewards - and forced its driver Lewis Hamilton to do so too - during hearings relating to the Australian Grand Prix.
While speculation has suggested that Dennis's departure is a 'peace offering' to the FIA ahead of the hearing, Dennis made it clear during a private press briefing at his Woking headquarters on Thursday that he had taken the decision alone.
He outright denied that there was any link to the current controversy, and said his sole motivation from stepping away was so he could make more a success of his new road car division.
"No," he said when asked if his move was related to the imminent WMSC hearing. "I have no qualms about what I am doing. This group needs to grow.
"I want to double the value of McLaren over the next two to five years. This is a good time to grow the business because there are quite a few talented people becoming available."
Dennis's comments have also been backed by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh - who briefed his entire race personnel staff in the Shanghai paddock on Thursday evening to tell them of the latest developments.
"Ron has said that it is his decision and it is not related to an F1 issue," Whitmarsh later told reporters. "He has decided that it is time to move to a new challenge, and that is what he has done."
Dennis did not enjoy the best of relationships with FIA president Max Mosley during his tenure in F1, and made reference to the matter in the statement announcing his departure by saying he and Bernie Ecclestone would not be 'displeased' he had gone.
Whitmarsh said it was important that McLaren moved forwards in its dealings with the governing body and cultivated an improved relationship with the FIA.
"I think anyone who has looked at the relationship between McLaren and the FIA over the last few years would have to conclude that it would be healthier for all of us to have a more positive, constructive relationship than perhaps we have had in the past," he said.
When asked if he felt that Dennis's decision would have an influence on the WMSC verdict, Whitmarsh said: "I think you must answer that one for yourself. You can speculate on that as well as I could, but it would be wrong to give you my view on it."