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Dennis to stand down from March 1

NEWS STORY
16/01/2009

After much speculation, Ron Dennis has announced that he is to stand down as McLaren team principal on March 1, weeks before the start of the 2009 season.

While the Englishman intends attending some races, he will hand over the role of team principal to McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh. It believed that Dennis will now focus on other commitments within the McLaren Group including the new McLaren supercar.

Speaking at the launch of his team's 2009 contender this morning, Dennis said: "First thing I am going to do is work harder, that is the first target. I intend raising my own game because I think everybody in our organisation at every level realises this is a tough period in which we are going to work and of course we are a very diverse organisation now.

"We have a clear intention for our production car programme which is really a challenge," he continued. "Any product we bring to the market will certainly fall the other side of this financial period.

"I stress nothing to get too excited about but it is absolute time for Martin to take over as team principal. As from March 1 he will adopt that responsibility. I will still go to races, not all of them, because I am passionate. I intend to work harder and will take on greater responsibility in the group. I will be full executive chairman. It is time and I have to say it is absolutely 100 percent my decision. It is what I want to do, but I do intend to work much harder.

"I don't see it as some sort of retirement," he added, "I simply want to work harder in other areas and having to plan those tasks around the GP calendar is disruptive to the process. It is a job that Martin will embrace and enjoy. It is a job over the years we have shared anyway, but it will be his decision to influence things at a grand prix circuit."

There is no denying that in recent years Dennis has been under enormous pressure. First there was the spy saga, which saw his team fined $100m, and the Englishman having to make a grovelling apology. Then there was the break-up of his marriage. In recent weeks he has been back in the headlines after a former employee accused him of being homophobic and racist. The employee subsequently withdrew the claim and apologised, causing the case to be dismissed.

It was widely thought, in respect of the pressure that he has been under, that Dennis might stand down should Lewis Hamilton - his protege - win the 2008 World Championship. While Dennis hasn't alluded to this, many within the sport will see it as the McLaren boss making full use of the opportunity.

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