Ron Dennis 'wins McLaren power struggle' to return as Chief Executive Officer

Martin Whitmarsh's position as Team Principal placed in doubt as Dennis vows "there will be changes" following his re-appointment; Announcement on Whitmarsh's future expected next month

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 17/01/14 3:39pm

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Ron Dennis has returned to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer of McLaren and, in an apparent threat to the position of Martin Whitmarsh as Team Principal, has vowed "there will be changes".

Following long-running speculation that Dennis might return to a more hands-on role with the F1 team, McLaren announced that the 66-year-old had been reappointed to the CEO role he held between 1982 and 2012 before becoming Chairman of the Group in 2013.

Dennis was also McLaren's long-standing and multiple world championship-winning Team Principal before Whitmarsh took over in 2009.

Whitmarsh had also held the role of CEO prior to Thursday's announcement but McLaren's statement made no reference to him or his future as Team Principal.

Perhaps ominously for Whitmarsh, Dennis vowed "there will be changes" at a specially-convened meeting of the McLaren workforce on Thursday in the wake of one of the worst seasons in the team's illustrious history when they failed to win a race for the first time in seven years and also missed out on the podium for the first time in since 1980.

Whitmarsh is understood not to have been present at the address.

Dennis will combine the CEO role with his position as Chairman and says he will carry out a thorough review of the company's businesses to help McLaren "win at whatever we do".

An announcement on Whitmarsh's future is expected next month.

"My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance," Dennis said.

"Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.

"During February, I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it. I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective - which is to win at whatever we do."

After buying into McLaren in 1980 and becoming Team Principal the following year, Dennis transformed the team into one of F1's pre-eminent forces and oversaw 10 Drivers' and seven Constructors' Championships during his three-decade tenure.

Following the 2008 title win of Lewis Hamilton, Dennis's long-time protege, the Englishman handed over the day-to-day reigns of the F1 operation to Whitmarsh ahead of the 2009 season, before soon stepping back from the sport altogether, and switched focus to launching McLaren Automotive, the outfit's road car division.

McLaren's latest F1 challenger for 2014, the MP4-29, will be launched on Friday January 24.

The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on Tuesday January 28, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.

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