It’s an interesting story and perhaps, given the results, we may look back and feel a little sheepish about our criticism of McLaren and/or Ron Dennis. While the team struggled in 2015 and posted its worst season in years, it also must be said that it was the honeymoon year with new engine partner Honda.
Dennis believes they are heading in the right direction for 2016 and that he has the right staff to achieve what the team is looking for telling the delightful Mr. Noble at Motorsport:
“I still have a firm belief that we have one of the best teams of people that we have had for a long time,” he said. “Our engineering group is highly motivated, and focused.
“You cannot change things quickly, and recover quickly. Do I believe we have got the people and the ability to do the job? Yes I do. I didn’t feel that a year ago or the year before.”
I’ll admit that even though I was very cautious about my expectations of the McLaren/Honda 2015 season, I was even a little surprised at how much they struggled. For McLaren, the technical team they’ve assembled is something Dennis feels is going to start paying dividends.
It’s an odd story, McLaren. Dennis back in the picture and rumors of boardroom struggles and strange driver lineup issues and more. It’s been rumored for well over a year that he is trying to buy back his majority position in the team. Honda’s struggles and the consistent talk of differing cultures between the Japanese engine maker and the Woking-based race team. It’s all made for a level of awkwardness played out in a forum that Dennis would most likely prefer it not be—in public.
There’s a part of me that wonders why Ron Dennis, at 68-years-old, would want to get into a heavily invested position and in control of the team. Why would he feel the need to? Perhaps his time away left him restless and he’s ready for a new challenge for the next 10 years, who knows?
Regardless of what happens, McLaren have had an odd path to their current situation since 2007. It’s been a wonky time for the team and perhaps Dennis is right. Maybe the right people are finally assembled and he’s locked in the right employees for the task of resurrecting this team from the ashes and taking it to the front. It’s not really been there with efficacy since the late 90’s.
If that happens, it will be quite a turnaround and something to be admired. If it doesn’t, we all may be wondering why a man, at his age, felt the need to take on the battle. Jockeying for a buyout of Mansour Ojjeh and possibly Mumtalakat is no walk in the park. It takes serious cash and mind-bending legal positioning. The fact that Dennis is even engaged in this process suggests that he’s really trying to settle in for the long run, however, and I don’t get the sense he’s looking for a quick in and out get-rich-quick scheme.
Ron has never struck me as a guy who likes giving control away, he’s quite the opposite and ever since the upheaval in the team that saw Martin Whitmarsh shown to the door and return of Dennis, I think he is on a mission both personally and corporately. I hope he succeeds, I truly do.
Hat Tip: Motorsport