Is Mercedes forcing Ron Dennis to step down from the helm of McLaren-Mercedes?
In what would amount to a final blow for Ron Dennis and the Stepneygate saga, Marca and the Daily News have been pulling at the threads of a rumor that has Mercedes asking for Ron Dennis to step down and sell his shares in McLaren. Previous reports had Ron Dennis being fired but as Ron is apart owner, this scenario would be very unlikely in my opinion.
Ron has had a difficult 12 months as the industrial espionage case or Stepneygate has brought McLaren to their knees with a $50M fine and continuously mounting legal fees and litigation. This week the Italian Magistrate investigated the homes of McLaren executives and the legal aspect of Stepneygate continues. Ron, in the last two weeks, also announced a pending divorce from his wife and recent news reports of financial data suggests that McLAren are in a tight financial position.
As I have been arguing for some time now, it seems difficult to me that Vodafone, Mercedes and other sponsors of McLaren would not be apoplectic over the espionage case and the eventual admission of guilt by Ron and his staff of incorporating Ferrari designs as gleaned from proprietary Ferrari information. Ultimately Ron is beholden to the sponsors of McLaren and I cannot imagine Mercedes and other main sponsors of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team would take lightly the accusations that were proven to be true all along. I have argued since last October that Ronâ€™s removal as CEO in favor of Martin Whitmarsh is a logical and sensible move. The brand equity damage that Ron has allowed to happen on his watch and the continual bravado and chest pounding he has done in the face of untruths has been very uncharacteristic of Ron Dennis.
What is troubling is that Ron, as a self proclaimed paragon of integrity, would allow all of this to happen. That he seemingly misled the FIA, Italian legal authorities and fans world-wide is only part of the equation. The CEO is responsible for every facet of his organization and claiming a lack of knowledge of devious workings within his company is not an excuse. Ronâ€™s world seems to be unraveling in horrific proportions and I do have compassion for the guy but could it not be said that he can only blame himself?
I have asked the question many times; what happened to Ron Dennis? This entire last year is not indicative of the Ron Dennis I have known for years. I have always held Ron to a high level of integrity and sportsmanship but the events of this last year have left me bereft of the explanations as to why he has done what he did and said what he said. I have no answers but he seems to have taken a complete turn since Lewis joined the team. His mishandling of the Fernando situation and odd attachment to Lewis and Anthony Hamilton has me perplexed. Lewis is the hottest thing since sliced bread but was it really necessary for Lewis to win the title in his first year of F1? Could Ron not have seen the big picture and paced Lewis for a stellar career in F1 while running the course of his current world title holder Alonso? Is it greed? Is Ron losing sight of the forest because of all the dang trees?
I think Mercedes and Vodafone are well within their rights to demand that Ron Dennis step down and to be honest, I think Ron should. I think he has compromised his integrity on many levels over the last year. That is my opinion but as a man you can compromise on many things; but never your integrity. When that happens, things change. In Ronâ€™s case, itâ€™s changing his personal and professional life on epic proportions. The price of compromise.