The Ron Dennis era at McLaren has ended after 37 years at the helm of his beloved formula one company that he transformed into a title wining superpower within the sport. Dennis was removed from his role at McLaren F1 last year as personal and business ties soured with longstanding partners. Today Dennis has relinquished his entire shareholding of McLaren Automotive and McLaren Technology Group for a reported sum of nearly £300m GBP.
Dennis built McLaren F1 into a formidable winning machine claiming 17 World Championships and 158 Grand Prix wins. The Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna era created a romance and legend through the preceding decades that attracted the very best drivers and sponsors.
However over the last five years McLaren’s race winning formula has dwindled and a lack of victories has seen long term sponsors leave as the team looks for a return to winning ways. Dennis believed that McLaren’s sponsorship value was in part related to it’s earlier dominance.
This rigid philosophy did not gel with sponsors who were not willing to pay above average rates to a team that was not performing on track. This is the reason why Dennis’s long term partners felt it was time for him to go.
When Dennis took over the McLaren F1 team it was valued at £3m GBP in 1980, today the group of companies is valued at over £2.4bn, a serious return on investment. What ever is said about Dennis’s resolute managerial style it’s fair to say McLaren will be a lesser company without his presence.
McLaren’s future will be set by the foundations left behind by Dennis. That said when the history books are read many, many years from now the story of McLaren F1 is Ron Dennis.