Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has conceded that his replacement, Martin Whitmarsh, has better skills at managing “world champions” who drive for the multi-championship-winning squad.
Dennis – who stepped down from the team boss role at the beginning of 2009 and still retains an Executive Chairman role of McLaren International – was asked by F1i magazine about the team’s current line-up of drivers, in Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
“Managing the co-habitation of two world champions is often a challenge,” the ever verbose Dennis answered. “I have tried it a few times. Martin is perhaps showing himself to be better than me at that role.”
Whitmarsh served as Dennis’ long-time deputy before Dennis stepped down from the Team Principal role, and has proven himself to be a popular, accessible and erudite senior figure of the paddock, and it is to him that many people credit McLaren’s more relaxed approach to interacting with the media.
And while Dennis was himself credited with McLaren’s shift to a more corporate culture under his reign – which included key signings of several major sponsors and driving talent – his management style came under significant questioning during the 2007 championship season that saw Hamilton clash with then-team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard lasted just a single season at McLaren after being a high-profile signing from Renault.
The situation mirrored the long stoush between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, who were bitter McLaren team-mates in 1988-9 while Dennis was also in charge of the team.
[Original image via Daily Mail]