Ron Dennis hopes contractual dispute with Red Bull can be settled outside of court
But McLaren boss questions World Champs' ethics in luring Fallows back
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 20/04/14 3:02pm
Ron Dennis has expressed the hope that McLaren's battle with Red Bull over the services of aerodynamicist Dan Fallows can still be settled outside the courtroom.
Speaking at the Chinese GP, the McLaren boss questioned the World Champions' move to lure Fallows back as their new Head of Aerodynamics, which was announced last week.
Fallows agreed to leave Red Bull and join McLaren earlier this year, but Dennis announced on Saturday that his team would pursue legal action for breach of contract.
Despite offering an olive branch, however, Dennis also questioned Red Bull's professionalism in tempting Fallows back to Milton Keynes - and apparently not responding when McLaren subsequently tried to contact them.
"It's for [Red Bull Team Principal] Christian [Horner] to reach out. We've did everything to ascertain that they knew there was a contract. We sent the messages out and they were ignored," Dennis told Sky Sports F1.
"If you send an email into a company and you don't get a response, then clearly I think the onus is on Christian stepping up to the plate and sitting down and talking.
"We're obviously not happy to be contracting people in a correct and professional way, only to find that those contracts are disregarded.
"What I'm particularly uncomfortable with is that people just don't change their minds, they induced to change their minds. People being induced to break contracts, it's just wrong."
Dennis denied that Fallows had specifically agreed terms with Martin Whitmarsh, whom he removed as Team Principal in January.
"It wasn't signed with Martin at all. It was one of our managers and at the end of the day contracts are contracts," he added.
Horner, however, thinks that McLaren's management shake-up is crucial in Fallows' decision. Red Bull's intention is for him to replace Peter Prodromou, himself Woking-bound at the end of the year.
"I have the utmost respect for Ron but I'm not quite sure what he means, because you can't force someone to work somewhere they don't want to be," Horner said.
"I guess he's talking about Dan Fallows, who signed a contract with McLaren with people that aren't there anymore and decided he didn't want to go."
When asked by Ted Kravitz whether it hurts when people question Red Bull's ethics, Horner pointedly replied: "Not when it's from Ron Dennis."
With the pair later spotted chatting on the grid, Horner joked after the race that "he was just saying 'Happy Easter'".
His levity was further helped by McLaren's performance in Shanghai, where Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both finished out of the points.
"Obviously it's very easy for McLaren to be drawing focus away from their bigger issues - I mean it's obvious why they're looking for aerodynamicists," Horner added.