Dennis relinquishes McLaren's F1 duties

The McLaren team has confirmed Ron Dennis is stepping back completely from his involvement with the Formula 1 squad, as AUTOSPORT predicted on Wednesday

Dennis relinquishes McLaren's F1 duties

McLaren said on Thursday that Dennis has already handed his responsibility as CEO of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who was named team principal earlier this year.

Dennis will focus entirely on leading the new sports car business, McLaren Automotive, which will now become an independent company, and which plans to launch the first model of McLaren sports cars in 2011.

Dennis, who missed his first grand prix for many years when he skipped the Malaysian GP, said the decision to step down was made by him alone.

"I passed the role of team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car," said Dennis.

"That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was 'yes'. I duly attended it - albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.

"The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK - an activity I found surprisingly easy. I'd expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.

"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no one asked me to do it. It was my decision.

"Equally, I was the architect of today's restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.

"I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1."

McLaren also said Richard Lapthorne will be appointed non-executive chairman of the McLaren Group and a non-executive director of McLaren Automotive.

"This is a very exciting time to be joining the McLaren Group and to be working closely with Ron and his team on McLaren Automotive's expansion into the sports car market," said Lapthorne.

"It's a rare opportunity to be involved at a key stage in the development of a British sports car company of an entirely new sort, especially one that has such a great racing pedigree and such a world-class reputation as McLaren."

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