McLaren have right team…but the right owner?

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

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I share your wish for Ron and McLaren to return to the pointy end of the grid. However, the very thing responsible for sponsors leaving recently will continue unless he has an epiphany. Sponsors want to appeal to a younger, more dynamic culture these days and Ron seems to be stuck in the black tie/elegance vibe he demands McLaren to be associated with. I wish for the best but I don’t see him changing any time soon.


“Sponsors want to appeal to a younger, more dynamic culture these days” Well if I look at all of the popular sports here in the USA – at least those that are widely broadcast and covered in the popular press – I don’t really see sponsors abandoning football, baseball, golf (!!), tennis (!!!), or any of the decadal stalwarts. OK, maybe they’re sponsoring more XGames, snowboarding, and rallycross, but those are so 90’s. So I’m not at all clear as to how a “younger, more dynamic culture” is impacting those sponsors, if at all. Do Millennials all like golf and… Read more »


I agree with what you say but you missed my point. Ron Dennis wants to pick and choose only those sponsors he feels are worthy of being on the McLaren cars. TAG Heuer left because they simply want to be associated with Red Bull which appeals to a younger dynamic. That might not be the exact words but it’s pretty close. Certainly not my intent to offend any age group, just stating an opinion about what I see happening at McLaren. I get that Ron doesn’t want stickers all over his cars from sponsors he might consider below McLaren’s standards… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Suddenly, the name “George Steinbrenner’ comes to mind. Dunno why. :P


I truly hope he resurrects the team. He has the ability to build a dream team and has done it many times already. Go Ron!


“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.” I guess for the same reason Brett Favre kept playing quarterback with any team that would take him until his professional and personal reputations were both destroyed. Very successful people rarely can tell when their productive time is over, always believe any enterprise is made better by their presence, and usually haven’t built much of a life outside of the arena they committed everything to. These are the same reasons (along with a… Read more »