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Dennis admits to feeling pain during McLaren's decline

NEWS STORY
12/04/2014

Firmly back at the helm at McLaren, Ron Dennis admits that his team's recent lack of form was hard to take.

"It was painful," he told the official Formula One website. "If you pass executive responsibilities, the only way you can judge the outcome is if it is one hundred percent, otherwise you can accuse yourself of influencing the decisions.

"In the end I felt that the right thing to do was to change direction, to refocus the team and remove from the team anything that was not contributing to a focused effort. There were too many in the team that were distracted by other activities."

Of course, the previous man in charge was Martin Whitmarsh, however, slipping back into his legendary 'Ronspeak', and without even naming him, he refused to blame the beleaguered Englishman.

"If you look at a racing car, you can just set-up the car with less front wing, the wrong springs, the wrong brakes, and the car will be uncompetitive," he said. "Companies don't always need radical change, they need to be tuned. So it would be difficult to say what has been achieved by me since the 16th of January. But one thing is for sure - that many of the people in the company didn't know what was 'true north'. They didn't have the right heading.

"Many times in the last few weeks I've taken the time to explain what is 'true north', what the direction is that we're going in. The biggest thing that achieves is that it avoids people wasting energy. If you are pulling in different directions then you are wasting energy. What you can't do is suddenly make a car that is behind on downforce have downforce - that takes time. What you can do is clearly define the target. You can choose the best people to reach the goal in the shortest period of time. Of course we have the racing team, but the racing team is 600 people, and getting them aligned in one direction is what management is all about.

"We can learn from the past," he continues, "but I don't think we should spend too much time in the past. Formula One only responds to one hundred percent commitment from every team member and I didn't feel that the environment that was in the team - and surrounding the team - was a winning environment. So an environmental change was required."

Asked if Eric Boullier knows where 'true north' is, Dennis replies: "Inevitably, for some time the needle wavers a few degrees before it settles. When it is five degrees in one direction and five in the other, even I would probably say 'okay, what is true north?' You're looking at the terrain in front of you and maybe north is there - but there might be a mountain in the way. You might, maybe, have to say that you have to adapt and accept the immediate challenges - and that was the approach that we took."

As clear as mud... but with both men known for their refusal to budge attitude, and Dennis very much a 'hands on' kind of leader, there have to be some lines of demarcation.

"There is no line of demarcation because we both want the same thing," says Dennis. "There are periods in my own career that I can reflect on. For example, in the very beginning of my career the drivers were older than me, in the middle of my career the drivers had the same age as me, and now the drivers are younger than me. It's the dynamic of how you behave.

"One of my first drivers, in my Formula Two team, was Graham Hill. He was a double world champion and you start thinking 'gee, how am I going to handle Graham Hill, a double world champion?' But I did. Ayrton Senna was a more comparable age and you remember Ayrton as a useful person. Now you have Eric who is younger than me - so now I have more wisdom!

"There is not anything he can tell me about motor racing, but what I can do is to give him an understanding of what is the right path to follow, and how to modify his understanding of the DNA and the character of McLaren in order to become more effective. His approach from Lotus has to be adapted. We have to get the best of two different directions, because in the end we are a much bigger animal; we are more complicated. And of course there is the passion to win.

"The reason why I have asked him to join the company is that he is clearly a racer: he understands motor racing because he's come from the bottom to the top. That is an asset when you are running a racing team. You have to have gone through the junior categories; you have to understand winning and losing in a different way. So far I think it is working very well, but of course it's only three races into the season."

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1. Posted by kiwi2wheels, 12/04/2014 17:11

"[ "There is not anything he can tell me about motor racing, but what I can do is to give him an understanding of what is the right path to follow, and how to modify his understanding of the DNA and the character of McLaren in order to become more effective.]

And Dennis will be remembered for his " humility "..............and adds weight to the opinion that he is an arrogant **** !"

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2. Posted by ape, 12/04/2014 16:27

"Time for Sergio Marchionne to kick Montezemolo in the butt to go hands on too instead of the endless whining."

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