The future of Ron Dennis at McLaren remains unclear as the battle for control of the Formula 1 team and automotive group continues to rage.
Although Sportsclubsociety understands Dennis remains McLaren chief executive officer and group chairman, Bernie Ecclestone has told reporters at the Brazilian GP that Dennis lost a High Court case on Friday to prevent him being sidelined.
“There was a court case yesterday,” Ecclestone said. “He wanted to overturn what happened and he lost the case unfortunately. It is a pity. We don’t want to lose Ron.”
Dennis fighting for McLaren future
Sky News revealed on Friday that Dennis had attempted to win ‘an injunction against a move to place him on gardening leave until his contract expires in mid-January’.
It is understood McLaren’s major shareholders do not want Dennis to continue in his role of chief executive with a senior insider describing the situation as ‘a bloodbath’.
“I don’t think anyone here knows what is going on,” admitted Jenson Button.
In order to stave off inevitable questions about the situation at the team during McLaren’s regular post-qualifying press conference at Interlagos, racing director Eric Boullier addressed the media to state: “Obviously there has been a few rumours around our team this weekend, especially the shareholders and about McLaren Technology Group.
“We will not answer any questions about this and not comment on these rumours. As far as we are concerned Ron Dennis is still the chairman and the group CEO today.”
What’s happening at McLaren?
Dennis, who owns 25 per cent of the McLaren Technology Group, has been trying to buy back control with a Chinese consortium but the company’s majority shareholders, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund and Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh, do not want to sell.
Sky sources revealed on Friday the consortium of Chinese investors had tabled a £1.65bn takeover bid which was rejected.
According to Sky News, “Dennis presented the offer for McLaren from a group of unidentified investors last week, a move which prompted his fellow shareholders to launch a plot to oust him as chief executive.”
‘Mr McLaren’s’ future in doubt
Dennis, 69, is the architect of the modern McLaren and during his tenure as team principal, between 1981 and 2009 won 10 Drivers’ and seven Constructors’ Championships.
After handing over the reins to Martin Whitmarsh following Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 title win, Dennis returned as CEO in 2014 and oversaw a management restructure which resulted in the departure of his successor.
He has also overseen the successful launch of a sportscar arm and the diversification of McLaren into a wider technology company.
However, reports of tension between Dennis and his fellow shareholders have lingered for several years. The Englishman, however, insisted in an interview with Sky F1’s Martin Brundle last month he had no intention of retiring yet.