Dennis doesn't rule out 'B team'


McLaren boss Ron Dennis hasn't ruled out the idea of running a 'B team' in 2008, indeed, he admits that such an idea has "more pluses than minuses".

McLaren, like Williams, is one of the teams that first came to prominence back in the days when one could buy an F1 car in much the same way as one could buy a suit... off the shelf. A chassis, a Ford Cosworth engine, a Hewland gearbox, some boots, a trailer and away you went, mixing it with Ferrari, BRM and Lotus.

In time, McLaren provided chassis for rival teams allowing a number of drivers to place their first foot on the 'F1 ladder'.

Eventually as F1 became more professional, more corporate, the rules were changed, if you wanted to enter the sport you had to show commitment, and that meant money. Other than a bond, guaranteeing that you would contest every race of the season and not 'cherry pick' the most prominent events, the other most obvious (financial) commitment was to build a factory where you would build your cars. This sort of commitment needed serious money, and thereby the wheat was sorted from the Andrea Modas and Lifes of this world.

Ron Dennis, who in late 1980 bought 50 percent of McLaren, was keen to see the end of the 'customer car' off the shelf era, believing that Formula One - the so-called pinnacle of motorsport - should be pure, and that each team should build its own cars.

Now, approaching 60, and with the rules allowing the return of 'customer cars' next season, the Englishman has had a change of heart.

For some time, there has been talk of a McLaren 'B team', initially with Jean Alesi at the helm, then mysterious talk of a Dubai-based operation and, more recently, David Richards Prodrive outfit, which, having won the coveted twelfth entry slot, will enter F1 next season.

Talking to F1 Racing magazine, Dennis refused to rule out the possibility of running a second team with the former Benetton and BAR team boss.

"Along with our colleagues at Mercedes-Benz, we'll seriously consider it," he admitted. "It's not just about revenue. Doing it well would be challenging and would require extra resource, and the company would have to be properly compensated for it.

"The revenue stream would also allow for greater investment in car development and so on," he continued. "So, overall, you'd have to say there are more pluses than minuses."

However, despite the obvious change of heart, Dennis was quick to point out that no deal has been done.

"The only conversation I've had with David has been about the possibility of McLaren Marketing supporting him in his efforts to fund Prodrive's F1 programme," he revealed. "I'd never rule out having a partnership with another F1 team, but it would be somewhat premature to say it will be Prodrive."

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Published: 24/04/2007
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