Ron Dennis dropped a bombshell earlier this year when he announced that he has returned at the helm of McLaren Group, following a coup within the shareholders. The 66 year old wasn’t happy with how the team was performing, especially in 2013, when they failed to score a single podium for the first time since 1980. He felt that the team lacked focus, and therefore an “environment change” was needed to return the Woking outfit to winning ways.
When asked by F1’s official site as to why he chose to return to the CEO position of McLaren, having taken care of company’s Automotive department for last few years, Dennis answered: “It was a very personal decision. I can understand people interpret my decision in different ways, but I suppose the real turning point was when, after two months of being in a non-executive position, I realised all the things that my friends were doing: playing golf, fishing, sailing - all these things which I was able to do - I realised that the thing that I wanted to do more than anything else was work.”
“I very much enjoy work, I very much enjoy Formula One - but I also feel I have unfinished business in the overall strategy for the future of the group.”
Dennis says that it was painful to watch the team ‘’distracted by other activities.’ and it was the ‘right thing’ for him to ‘change direction’.
“It was, of course, painful,” the Brit said.” If you pass executive responsibilities, the only way you can judge the outcome is if it is one hundred percent, otherwise you can accuse yourself of influencing the decisions. In the end I felt that the right thing to do was to change direction - to refocus the team and remove from the team anything that was not contributing to a focused effort.”
He further revealed that it was his decision to put McLaren protege Kevin Magnussen into the driving seat, alongside 2009 world champion Jenson Button.The rumour has it that then McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was interested in signing Sergio Perez for another year, but couldn’t do so for unknown reasons, now clear to us.
“The decision to take Kevin was mine. It was only possible to take Kevin because of my decision - that would be accurate. I took the decision because I felt that we needed to see if he could meet the expectations of our engineers, and so far he has done a great job.”
The 66 year old further revealed the reason to hire Lotus team principal Eric Boullier as his outfit's Racing Director, a role that is effectively equal to Team Principal, albeit only during a Grand Prix weekend.
“The reason why I have asked him to join the company is that he is clearly a racer: he understands motor racing because he’s come from the bottom to the top. That is an asset when you are running a racing team. You have to have gone through the junior categories; you have to understand winning and losing in a different way. “
F1’s most successful team principal further revealed that his biggest fear is failure and how he has kept himself motivated for last 30 years or so in Formula 1.
“We need to be driven - and you have to find ways to drive yourself - and of course there’s adrenalin involved. But adrenalin is a very short-lived experience, not a long-term effect. You have to be motivated by your thoughts, by your ambition. I will die ambitious. I will never lose my ambition and my drive.”
“I know I will be judged and my biggest fear is always failure - and I don’t want to fail. I don’t intend to”, he added.
Dennis left the role of McLaren's team principal in 2009 but returned to an influential role earlier this January after Martin Whitmarsh was cast aside from team's F1 operations.