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DATE News (chronologically)
08/24/08
f1
Ron Dennis career in jeopardy - to step down  UPDATE #6 (GMM)  Ron Dennis has categorically denied telling the Spanish newspaper El Pais that he is considering "taking a step back" from his role as McLaren boss.

The 61-year-old, who also fended off raging suggestions that he was stepping down over the winter period, was quoted as saying he harbors "ambitions" beyond heading the British team.

"All the difficulties of the past 10 months made it difficult to make decisions about my future," he was quoted as saying.  "But if you ask me whether I am considering taking a step back, the answer is yes."

But according to PA Sport, Dennis is baffled about the reports.

"I haven't spoken to any member of the press for three weeks," he said at Valencia on Sunday.

"It's just a complete fabrication, an absolute fabrication.  I don't know where the story has come from, but I haven't spoken to anybody for weeks."

08/23/08 (GMM)  Speculation about the immediate future of McLaren boss Ron Dennis is back on the agenda.

The 61-year-old, who fended off raging suggestions that he was stepping down over the winter period, has told a Spanish newspaper at Valencia that he is indeed considering "taking a step back" from his leading role.

"I have still many ambitions," the Briton said in interview with El Pais.

Dennis admits that 2007, which involved the spy scandal, the Fernando Alonso saga and the breakdown of his marriage, was one of the worst years of his life.

"All the difficulties of the past 10 months made it difficult to make decisions about my future.  But if you ask me whether I am considering taking a step back, the answer is yes," he said.

Dennis insists that even if he does step back, with Martin Whitmarsh primed to take over at the helm of the Mercedes-powered team, he would remain involved at McLaren.

"I do not consider the word withdrawal as meaning goodbye," he explained, "but instead a step towards other functions."

03/11/08 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Following widespread speculation that Ron Dennis is preparing to step down as McLaren's team boss, it now appears that the 60-year-old Briton will actually stay in the role for the whole of the imminent 2008 season.

Eurosport on Tuesday has quoted team equity partner Mercedes-Benz's competition chief Norbert Haug as revealing the management structure is "unchanged" for this year, while it is understood that Dennis - before departing for Melbourne this week - told staff at the Woking factory that he is not stepping down.

Dennis is nonetheless expected to outline his plans for the future during a press briefing at Albert Park, but Haug insists: "I can say that our management structure is unchanged."

03/02/08 Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren chief executive, will succeed Ron Dennis as team principal of the formula one team should the 60-year-old chairman step down, as expected, over the next couple of weeks. zzzz

03/01/08 McLaren Mercedes boss Ron Dennis, whose driver Lewis Hamilton is one of the favorites to win this year’s Formula One world championship, is likely to step aside this week.

Sources close to Dennis made it clear that the man who has built McLaren into one of the most powerful teams in the history of the sport is determined to achieve a better balance between his family life, other McLaren businesses and the Grand Prix team. Dennis, who recently announced that he had split with his wife of 22 years, Lisa, is understood to feel that the time demands of heading up the F1 team have become disproportionate and, contrary to reports last week, is increasingly inclined towards a change of priorities. There are 18 races scheduled this season.

Now 61, he is adamant that he intends to be more available to his children, and also believes that the role of team principal has changed. Unlike Dennis, who is a major shareholder commanding a majority on the McLaren board, several other current team principals are essentially employees who sometimes have to refer major decisions.

Dennis is expected to announce his decision in midweek. He is under no pressure from other shareholders and many staff have been urging him to stay on. The biggest factor which might still stay his hand is the perception outside McLaren.  London Times

02/29/08 (GMM)  Ron Dennis and his deputy Martin Whitmarsh have denied reports that the McLaren team boss is being forced out -- but speculation persists that Dennis' nearly three-decade reign at the helm of the Woking based outfit is close to an end.

Dennis, who will turn 61 later this year, gave several private briefings to allies in the British media on Thursday, rejecting rumors that 40 per cent team owner Mercedes-Benz wants him sacked.

He reportedly told the Daily Telegraph that, as Group CEO and chairman and a shareholder, there is "no mechanism" for removing him as boss, and also "no will to do so" among the team's other stakeholders.

But the newspaper said Dennis will nevertheless make a "decision about his future ... forthwith".

The Times insists that, contrary to speculation, Dennis intends to travel to the Australian grand prix next month, although he may arrive in Melbourne late.

Team CEO Whitmarsh, meanwhile, who would inherit Dennis' job, told the Press Association that "it is for Ron to decide when and if he should step down, step away, step back, or whatever".

If Dennis does step back, "Whitmarsh might find himself promoted to the position of team principal and could be on the pit wall overseeing the Australian grand prix in just over a fortnight's time", the Guardian observed.

Ron Dennis
02/28/08 McLaren chief Ron Dennis' 28-year career at the Formula One team was close to an embarrassing collapse on Wednesday, after police raided his mansion in the south of England.  They were searching for evidence of industrial espionage as part of an Italian criminal investigation into the Spygate scandal.

This had already cost McLaren a whopping £50 million (S$141 million) fine last season for illegally possessing secret Ferrari data.

The British team tried to play down the significance of the raid, which was also conducted at their Woking factory and the homes of other key personnel, including suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

It was Coughlan's receipt of a 780-page dossier of Ferrari secrets from Nigel Stepney, the Italian team's former mechanic, that sparked the scandal midway through last season.

However, the raids come at a very sensitive time for Dennis.

Mercedes, McLaren's largest shareholder, is putting pressure on him to step aside after his woeful handling of the Spygate furor.

In addition to the fine, the team were kicked out of the constructors' championship last season and ended up losing the drivers' title despite leading for most of the campaign.

Their reputation was heavily tarnished for cheating and then trying to cover up the theft of Ferrari data.

Spanish newspaper Marca went so far as to claim that 60-year-old Dennis, who still owns 15 per cent of McLaren, had already been fired. His No 2, Martin Whitmarsh, was expected to take over the embattled team.

The loss of Dennis could destabilize driver Lewis Hamilton's preparations for a season that starts on March 16 in Australia, not to mention the blow to team morale. More at StraitTimes.com

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