Motorsport

Published: Friday January 24, 2014 MYT 10:42:02 PM
Updated: Friday January 24, 2014 MYT 10:42:03 PM

Dennis will drive McLaren on, says Button

LONDON (Reuters) - The return of former principal Ron Dennis to a more hands-on role at McLaren will boost the hurting Formula One team this season, Jenson Button said on Friday.

Dennis ousted Martin Whitmarsh as McLaren group chief executive last week, with the latter now expected to vacate the role of team principal as well before the championship starts in Australia in March.

McLaren presented their new MP4-29 car online on Friday with Whitmarsh conspicuous by his absence and senior management and drivers made clear that Dennis, who ran the team from 1982 to 2009, was again calling the shots.

"This team under Ron has won multiple world championships, back to the days of Ayrton (Senna) and Alain (Prost) and before," said Button, who won his 2009 title with Brawn GP, in a video interview on the team website.

"There is so much history of Ron and this team. He's a true racer, he's a true fighter and he really has built this team up over the years.

"It's good for the team, it's good for Ron that he has the chance to really drive this team on again. Everyone here is excited about the challenge of 2014 with Ron in charge," the Briton said in his first comments about the changeover.

McLaren need to move up a gear after a dismal 2013 without a single podium finish, their worst performance since 1980, that saw the former champions end up fifth overall in the constructors' standings.

While Dennis has reassumed overall control, he is not expected to take on the active role of principal on the pit wall. Frenchman Eric Boullier, who was replaced as Lotus principal on Friday, is now seen as a likely candidate.

Managing director Jonathan Neale, who worked closely with Dennis in the past, said the 66-year-old - a company shareholder whose main focus in recent years has been developing McLaren's sportscar business - had lost none of his energy.

"For those that know Ron, he is as fired up as he ever has been, probably more passionate now than ever," he declared.

"He is excited about the changes that we have ahead of us...he has a very strong vision about the brand and the values, and not just about making sure that McLaren is totally focused on winning, but how we win.

"If ever there was somebody who had a very strong vision and a sense of true north and how it is to win in Formula One and why that is important, he has got it in spades," said Neale. "It's exciting times."

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