Is Ron Dennis a lame duck?

As if 2007 wasn’t bad enough for McLaren, 2008 has begun pretty badly for the Woking-based team. Over the past few days police in Modena have said they have collected evidence from the homes of senior McLaren personnel. The team has hit back at the Italian police’s wording, even threatening to involve the Home Office in this whole sorry affair.

These latest twists in the Stepneygate saga have heightened speculation that Ron Dennis will be asked to step aside by the overlords at McLaren Mercedes. As Pitpass has so methodically pointed out, Mr Dennis couldn’t possibly be fired because he is an overlord at McLaren Mercedes and owns a 15% share of McLaren Group.

But I wonder if all this talk of firing is really missing the point. The thing is, Ron Dennis is damaged goods. There is no doubt about it. While he still owns 15% of the company, the notion that Ron Dennis will now take a back seat surely isn’t ridiculous.

And it is rather clear to me that this is exactly what has happened. I remember, for instance, the credulity that Negative Camber at Formula1Blog expressed when McLaren’s apology was signed by Martin Whitmarsh rather than Ron Dennis. Then when it came to the launch of the new McLaren challenger, Dennis played a minimal role in proceedings.

In fact, I can scarcely think of anything that Ron Dennis has actually said since November or December. He is definitely lying low. Certainly over the past few days with the speculation surrounding Dennis’s position within the McLaren Group, Martin Whitmarsh has done all the talking. There hasn’t been a peep out of Ron Dennis.

The point is that in the eyes of the fans and the media, Ron Dennis has lost an awful lot of credibility. As such — no matter what the bigwigs at McLaren think — he is in no position to lead the McLaren team with authority. In short, he is a lame duck.

Whether Ron Dennis is “fired” or not is moot. It is clear that being at the helm of McLaren will do neither the F1 team nor Ron Dennis himself any good. Surely Ron Dennis is simply mulling over his options before opting to step aside.


  1. They will only get Ron out of the MTC in a coffin. Remember the tearful “My life’s work” speech last year.

    On the other hand, if the bad press continues, how long will the three pointed star want him to be the public face of Merc. Think about it? Haug would have asked Ron “exactly what is going on?” on several times last year. He would have been told the whole “no McLaren staff are involved other than Coughlan” story.Which turned out to not exactly be the truth. Makes you wonder what Haug & the board really think.

  2. Yes, absolutely. He’s credibility is below zero and sometimes it is better to lead a bout from the lower decks. I don’t really think he is loosing power, It’s more a matter of public image.

  3. So not just the FIA, but also the Italian rozzers, are in Ferrari’s pockets? I really hope McLaren win this season, and ideally that Ferrari score 0 points…

  4. Yeah, I was quite surprised by the wording of the police statement. I know its easy for Brits to lapse into the mentality that police on the continent are more corrupt and incompetent, but I can’t help thinking that you wouldn’t find the police in Britain saying anything like that. says today that the Italian police statement was misunderstood or badly translated. But the new version doesn’t seem all that much different to me…

  5. I don’t think that Dennis’ credibility was damaged at all last year by the events. I mean FFS he was the one who rang Mad Max when Alonso made him aware of the emails !

    Would someone with a guilty concience do that? And I would say that it is near on impossible to keep track of absolutely everything happening in a company the size of McLaren – not to mention that the staff involed probably took great care to NOT let Dennis in on what was going on, knowing he would not approve.

    If anything, my opinion of him increased.

    On the other hand, the attack on McLaren was clearly a personal vendetta against Dennis, and I fear that Mad Max and his little sidekick Luca will not give up until they force him out.

    Up to him if he wants to stay and put up with that sh*t for another year. He also has to think about that is in the teams best interests – which may well be not having Mad Max breathing down their necks for the next 19 rounds….