Ron Dennis - A gift to Formula 1

Do you want to post a tribute about your favourite retired drivers, perhaps you want to discuss the rantings of the MIT (men in tweed). They thought they were safer when they retired, perhaps not mumblers!! How about a tribute to those that are not drivers but still in the game?

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Ron Dennis - A gift to Formula 1

Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 4:45 pm

Ron Dennis

Dennis CBE (born June 1, 1947) in Woking, England, is the chairman, CEO and 30% owner of the McLaren Group. He is also the team principal of the McLaren Formula One team.

Since the early 1980s Ron Dennis has been the principal of the McLaren Formula One team attending races and supervising the teams operations and strategy from the pit wall. Dennis is widely believed to have a strong dislike for FIA president Max Mosley. [citation needed]

He is placed at number 648 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 with a fortune of £90 million.





Early life

Born and raised in Woking, England, Ron Dennis left school at sixteen and began working as an apprentice mechanic for the famous garage Thomson & Taylor at Weybridge (near the disused Brooklands circuit). Folklore has it that Dennis' main task was cleaning up Moskvitch cars newly arrived from London docks. When that garage became a subsidiary of the Chipstead Motor Group, Dennis transferred to another arm of the business, the Cooper Car Company who manufactured racing cars.

In 1965, now aged eighteen, Dennis became a mechanic (at a time when most racing mechanics were at least ten years older; Dennis' drive and ambition was noted right from the start) for the Cooper Formula One team, working on Jochen Rindt's car for three years before the Austrian moved to the Brabham team, taking the young Englishman with him. Rindt's stay at Brabham was relatively short, but on his departure to Lotus in 1969 Dennis remained at Brabham. At this time Dennis is credited for introducing the more clinical conditions of Formula One car maintenance into the sport. When most mechanics would operate in typical workshop conditions Dennis insisted upon spotless cleanliness, and after each race would strip down his car in conditions more akin to an operating theatre than the normal working environment.

When Jack Brabham chose retirement in 1971 Dennis and fellow mechanic Neil Trundle decided to start their own team. In 1972 Rondel Racing was founded in his native Woking and by the mid-1970s the team was enjoying moderate success in the Formula One feeder categories all around Europe.

Rondel aspired to being a little more than a customer team, and Dennis managed to find a backer (Motul) to fund a Rondel F2 car; the car took their name. For 1974 a Ray Jessop-designed F1 car was planned, but the energy crisis affected racing severely and the car was completed by other hands and raced as the Token and later the Safir.

Dennis set up an unsuccessful F2 team with Marlboro backing for a couple of Ecuadorean driver of no particular talent; after this folded, in 1975 Dennis founded the Project Three team with his cars once again becoming race winners, and in the late 1970s founded Project Four. This team went on to success in Formula 2 and Formula 3, taking the title in 1979 and 1980 with Marlboro backing.

In 1980 the tobacco giant engineered a merger (more accurately, a reverse takeover) between Dennis's Project Four and the McLaren Formula One constructor becoming McLaren International which ultimately placed the thirty-four year old in full control of the merged teams. Dennis' trump card was the hiring (at Project Four) of designer John Barnard who began work on the teams revolutionary new carbon fibre composite chassis. The "MP4" designation did not originally stand for McLaren/Project 4; it was originally Marlboro Project Four (the MP4/1 design was complete before the merger). It only became an abbreviation for McLaren after the change of title sponsor in the 1990s; the car became known as the MP4/1, a numbering system which the team has retained until the present time (the 2006 car is known as the McLaren MP4-21).


Building McLaren
In 1980 the team failed to win a single Grand Prix, finishing a lowly seventh in the constructors title with John Watson and Alain Prost. Even in those early days Dennis recognised the young Frenchman’s potential but was unable to prevent him moving to the Renault team in 1981, a season which saw McLaren once more winning races with Watson's victory at Silverstone. 1981 also saw many other teams struggling to duplicate Barnard's revolutionary chassis and late in the year Dennis continued to build a strong foundation for his team by approaching, then Williams backer, Mansour Ojjeh. He convinced the Saudi businessman not to sponsor McLaren but to become a partner in the team, investing in a Porsche built turbo-charged engines which would carry the name of Ojjeh's Techniques d'Avant Garde (TAG).

Dennis now felt that he had enough pieces in place to attract a star driver, and so he approached Niki Lauda. The Austrian had retired some three seasons earlier but Dennis was convinced the thirty-three year old could be lured back into Formula One, and at the 1982 South African Grand Prix the double world Champion lined up alongside Watson at the start of the season. By the end of the year both drivers had secured two victories and 1983 began with more success with Watson's United States Grand Prix win.

No more wins followed that year, but by the Italian Grand Prix in September Ojjeh's engines were ready and McLaren-Ford gave way to McLaren-TAG. Convinced by his initial investment Ojjeh became the major investor in McLaren, taking 70% of the shares. By the end of the year Alain Prost, now a race winner at Renault, had been signed to replace Watson and with the massively experienced Lauda at his side everything was set for a title challenge in 1984.

In just four years Dennis had turned McLaren from an also-ran team into a front-runner and in 1984 his work was rewarded with 12 wins from 16 races and both drivers and constructors titles. Lauda took the title by a half point from Prost with both drivers scoring more than double the tally of third placed Elio de Angelis. The following year the tables were turned and Prost beat Lauda to the drivers title with McLaren finishing eight points clear of second placed Ferrari, but the pack was closing and in 1986 Dennis's McLaren team lost out to Williams, although the consistent Prost still took the drivers crown.

By 1987 it was clear that the TAG engine was no longer competitive in the face of increased manufacturer involvement and so Dennis approached Honda, who were at the time supplying rival Williams. Unnerved by a recent road-car accident to team principal Frank Williams, and his unwillingness to accept a Japanese driver, Honda transferred their supply to the McLaren team. Dennis further strengthened the teams package by signing Brazilian Ayrton Senna to partner double champion Prost.

In 1988 McLaren was dominant, even by the standards of 1984, taking the 15 of the 16 races and both titles with no opposition, but it was behind the scenes that Dennis's political manoeuvring was most required. Partnering Prost with the volatile but brilliant Senna, arguably two of the all-time greats, had always been a recipe for conflict, and Dennis masterfully kept both drivers focused on racing, but it couldn't last.

By mid-1989 it was clear that even Dennis was powerless to control the two warring drivers, and after a controversial collision at the Japanese Grand Prix, which handed the title over to Prost, the Frenchman left the team for Ferrari and for the following season was replaced by Gerhard Berger.


The 1990s
At the start of the 1990s McLaren continued to dominate the sport with Ayrton Senna taking back-to-back titles in 1990 and 1991 and signing promising new-comer Mika Häkkinen as test driver at the end of 1992, but by 1992 Williams was once more in the ascendancy. McLaren was not to win another title for seven years. Instead, with the loss of Honda power in 1993, Dennis was left haggling with Ford and works partner Benetton for a supply of competitive engines. The BBC made a documentary series, A Season With McLaren, about the 1993 season. A disastrous partnership with Peugeot in 1994 left Dennis struggling to find a fourth engine partner in four years, but for 1995 he agreed terms with Mercedes, an association which endures to this day. The first couple of seasons of the Mercedes relationship were difficult, with the inevitable teething troubles that come of a new engine, indifferent chassis, and the odd choice of a driver for 1995 in Nigel Mansell - Dennis was on record as saying he didn't understand Mansell and also that he'd never hire a driver he didn't understand! Mansell did not even fit the car at the start of 1995 (Mark Blundell deputised) and even when a revised chassis was produced Mansell's performances were not successful. Mika Häkkinen gradually assumed leadership of the team but suffered severe head injuries in a crash at the end of the 1995 season, from which he fortunately made a complete recovery.

By the mid-1990s Dennis was once more building his team towards domination of the sport and in 1996 he approached Williams star designer Adrian Newey to become technical director of McLaren. Newey agreed and in 1998 McLaren once more took driver and constructors titles with Mika Häkkinen. A second drivers title followed in 1999, but Ferrari took constructors glory, a sign of things to come in the next five years.


The 2000s
In 2000 Dennis was made a Commander of the British Empire.

In 2001 Dennis was faced with a crisis amongst his staff when Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal attempted to lure Newey from McLaren. Details of how Dennis convinced Newey to stay have remained extremely vague but rumours in the press suggested a deal allowing the designer to work on racing yachts. In the same year team leader Mika Häkkinen announced that he was to leave the sport. Faced with the loss of his double world champion star driver Dennis signed Finn Kimi Räikkönen from under the nose of Ferrari boss Jean Todt, who had made little secret of his interest in the driver.

In 2005 Dennis remained at the top of the sport following a poor year in 2004. Despite producing their strongest performance for several years, McLaren were narrowly beaten in both championships by the Renault F1 team. Compounding this, it was announced that Newey would be leaving to join Red Bull Racing from the start of 2006. This had caused onlookers to question whether McLaren can remain competitive in the long term, although Dennis' signing of World Champion Fernando Alonso and Ferrari sponsor Vodafone, both for the 2007 season, have mostly laid these doubts to rest.


"Ronspeak"

"Ronspeak" is the term coined for the style of speech used by McLaren team boss Ron Dennis in Formula One racing. It has become a well-used phrase in the F1 paddock to describe sentences which consist of unneeded complexity and often unfathomable words. Dennis is renowned for his excessively businesslike and cautious answers to tough questions from F1 journalists. It started circa 1980, when sponsorship started to play a more prominent role in the sport, and has become well-known in the motor-racing community to the extent that is has been given a term which bears his name.
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Postby John » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 9:39 pm

Is Ron Dennis a Grand Prix Master............. :roll:



Very interesting article....a credit to its author.
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 9:44 pm

i must look up who wrote it on Wiki

He is a Grand Prix master for sure; his contribution to F1 is immense.
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Postby John » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 9:57 pm

St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:i must look up who wrote it on Wiki


No need... most just say where it came from at the bottom of the article.... :wink:


St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:He is a Grand Prix master for sure...


Section Title:
Grand Prix Masters

Section Description:
"So you are retired, and need to top up the pension for that new shade of tweed......bring the on The Grand Prix Masters, once they where kings now being discussed here and rightly so. Magic to see the old names."


I do not doubt or deny the contribution and achievements of Ron Dennis in F1 but for a guy who has made a crusade of getting people to post in appropriate sections.... This one was well wide of the mark. :lol:
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 10:05 pm

Thanks for the advice John, you desire to help is laudable.

I think I feel happy with my Ron Dennis post here.
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Postby John » Sat 30 Dec, 2006 10:29 pm

St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:Thanks for the advice John....


Don't even mention it............... :lol:


St. Mackem of Kansas wrote: I think I feel happy with my Ron Dennis post here.


Oh so am I, it was a good read and very informative....

I'm surprised he hasn't had his 'gong' yet..... :roll:
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 4:34 pm

Image

happy new year John
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 4:52 pm

And a happy new year to y'all!
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Postby Julian » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 5:58 pm

St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:Image

happy new year John


You may be abrasive, but you are funny
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 6:10 pm

You may be abrasive, but you are funny


thanks DC
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Postby vikki » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 7:23 pm

ron dennis - a gift to formula 1 ?

should that not be

ron dennis - a git in formula 1

:wink:
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 7:31 pm

He is a master at what he does, and being an amiable media person is not what he does.
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Postby vikki » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 7:37 pm

St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:He is a master at what he does, and being an amiable media person is not what he does.


i will admit he is quite good at running a gp team.
and i always think it is admirable he trys to get two top line drivers for his team unlike some others we wont mention.
even when like jpm it doesnt quite work.
but he still winds me up when hes winning even though williams is at the other end of the grid these days!
at least we presume so.else nando is going to very cross.
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 8:04 pm

quite good


Like saying Everest is a bit high, or the North Pole a bit chilly
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Postby vikki » Sun 31 Dec, 2006 8:11 pm

St. Mackem of Kansas wrote:
quite good


Like saying Everest is a bit high, or the North Pole a bit chilly


but no titles in the 21st century and it is getting on a bit now.....
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