Ron Dennis

With new versions of the 12C coming out all the time, the new P1 still wowing crowds and additional projects underway, sports car fanatics might surmise that McLaren is doing pretty well for itself these days. But Formula One fans would likely disagree. After losing its longtime prodigy Lewis Hamilton to its longtime partner, Mercedes, McLaren failed to land on the podium (let alone win an actual grand prix) even once last season. In fact, the last time McLaren – one of the most historically successful teams on the grid – won the F1 World Championship was back in 2008, when Ron Dennis was still calling the shots. Little wonder, then, that the board of the McLaren Group has seen it fit to reinstate Dennis as chief executive officer.

Ron Dennis is the man rightfully and widely credited with turning McLaren into the powerhouse it is today. He came to the team in 1980 at the end of a three-year dry spell in which it had not won a single grand prix. The following season, it was already winning races again, and by 1984, it was winning World Championships again: seven Constructors' Championships and ten Drivers' Championships with pilots like Lauda, Prost, Senna, Hakkinen and Hamilton. All in all, the team was never as successful as it was under the leadership of Ron Dennis, but in 2009, he stepped aside as team principal to focus on expanding the group's business, leaving Martin Whitmarsh to assume the title of CEO. But while the carmaking division has grown under Dennis' watchful eye, the F1 team has floundered under Whitmarsh's direction. So the board has reinstated Dennis as CEO of the entire group.

This isn't the first time McLaren has faced difficulties with (and had to replace) one of Dennis' lieutenants. Last year, McLaren Automotive's managing director Antony Sheriff was placed on extended leave, his duties ultimately effectively reassigned to Mike Flewitt, who was promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive officer of the carmaking unit this past summer. Just what that this new appointment will mean for Whitmarsh in his role as F1 team principal remains to be seen, but Dennis says he is gearing up "to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance." He'll have a new strategy outlined for the group next month, but in the meantime, you can read the official announcement below.
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Ron Dennis CBE Appointed Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group

McLaren Group today announced that Ron Dennis CBE, Chairman of McLaren Group, has been appointed to the additional role of Group Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group.

WOKING, SURREY, UK - McLaren Group today announced that Ron Dennis CBE, Chairman of McLaren Group, has been appointed to the additional role of Group Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group, with immediate effect. Mr Dennis, a shareholder of McLaren since 1980 and the architect of its modern era, was the CEO of the Group from 1982 to 2012 and the Team Principal of the McLaren Formula 1 racing team from 1982 to 2009 before becoming Chairman of the Group in 2013.

Following his appointment today, Mr Dennis said, 'My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance. Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them. During February, I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it. I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective – which is to win at whatever we do.'

Mr Dennis will remain Chairman of McLaren Automotive, the marque's successful high-performance road car company.