A personal rift and a buyout bid by Chinese investors are seemingly behind Ron Dennis' sudden exit from F1 and McLaren. Although the 69-year-old's ousting has only now been confirmed, rumours of a falling out between his long-time ally and fellow shareholder Mansour Ojjeh, and McLaren's Bahraini co-owners, have been circulating for some time.
"There has been a fall out and Ron's style of management didn't quite suit people who owned the company," former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan told the Irish broadcaster RTE. According to reports, the mess hit the fan when Dennis presented a buyout bid by a group of Chinese investors to Ojjeh and Bahrain. "There is no doubt the Chinese bid, which is very real, is behind all this," an unnamed source told China Daily. "The Bahrainis don't want to sell and that's what caused the problem."
Dennis' exit - beginning with 'gardening leave' until his current contract expires in January - is now official, but the common refrain in F1 circles is that it is a shame. "The trouble is that this whole thing is personal," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said. "Once people fall out, it becomes difficult. But I hope they can get together and work something out for everyone's sake. Ron is a big shareholder and he can still have his say."
At the moment, any reconciliation appears likely, especially as Dennis fought Ojjeh and Bahrain to the death through the court system. "It is a shame the way he has left, going to the high court, trying to defy it and not accepting it," said Jordan. "Ron should have left in the highest applause, just like we saw Massa being applauded by the people in Brazil."
Agreeing that it is a shame is Sir Geoffrey Vos, the judge who ruled against Dennis' bid for an injunction last week. "It is extraordinary that parties who have been so closely involved for so long have come to this scale of litigation so close to the end of their relationship," he said. "There is not so much between the parties as they think. Even at this late stage, I would urge them to consider whether their differences cannot be reconciled outside court." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing