Martin Whitmarsh’s future as McLaren team principal was cast into doubt on Thursday with the announcement that his predecessor Ron Dennis was replacing him as group chief executive. McLaren said in a statement that Dennis would be taking on the role of CEO of McLaren Group as well as remaining as Group chairman and head the McLaren Automotive sportscar division.
Whitmarsh was previously Group CEO as well as team principal. Dennis was group chief executive from 1982 to 2012 and team principal until 2009.
In a 20-minute address to assembled McLaren employees at the Woking factory, Dennis assured them that “there will be change” at the former world champions and also that “we will win again”.
McLaren had a dismal season last year, failing to finish on the podium for the first time since 1980. Whitmarsh’s future was not mentioned in the statement but an announcement is expected next month on the future leadership of the team.
“During February I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it,” said Dennis in the statement.
Sources indicated that there had been no change of shareholdings at McLaren, which is half-owned by Bahrain’s investment fund Mumtalakat, and nobody had been sacked.
However the statement quoted Dennis as saying the shareholders had mandated him to “write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance.”
He said that over the coming weeks he would be undertaking a “thorough and objective review” of all the McLaren businesses.
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