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GP Week : Issue 42
Dennis departure divides McL RON Dennis has walked away from the team he helped to create, officially handing over all responsibility for the McLaren F1 Team to Martin Whitmarsh last week. In a move seen by many as a symbolic gesture of falling on his sword following the post-Australian Grand Prix scandal which has seen McLaren called back in front of the World Motor Sport Council, Dennis will play no further part in the Formula 1 operation, and will now concentrate fully on his new role as Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, the company’s road car division. “I admit I’m not always easy to get on with,” he said. “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.” It is believed within the paddock that Dennis felt that for as long as he remained at McLaren, the team would never be given a fair hearing by the FIA and, in particular, the WMSC. Bernie Ecclestone, however, who sits on the WMSC, told reporters in China that Dennis’ departure would have no bearing on the team’s forthcoming hearing on charges of fraud. “They still face the same range of punishments if the WMSC find them guilty,”Ecclestone said. “If he resigned to stop the hearing, it won’t work. This is about finding out if there was more to what happened than we have already learned.” The dismissal of Dave Ryan, one of McLaren’s longest serving members of staff, for his part in the lying scandal which has engulfed the team has apparently not gone down well with the boys in the McLaren garage, and allegations of discord surrounding the increasingly powerful position of Lewis Hamilton and his management were rife over the China GP weekend. In light of Ron Dennis’departure, and Hamilton’s admission that he “wasn’t disappointed” to see his mentor walk away from the team he created, relations between Hamilton and the McLaren garage are said to be at an all-time low as the World Champion continually refused to deny suggestions he could quit the team. A race littered with an uncharacteristic number of mistakes for the World Champion in conditions he usually relishes will only serve to add more fuel to a fire that does not look like dying out any time soon.