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Dennis: McLaren demise was painful to watch

Apr 12, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice Getty Images

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis has said that it was painful to watch the team languish in the midfield for much of the 2013 season, which prompted him to reinstate himself as CEO and return to the day-to-day running of the team.

Dennis took a step back from McLaren’s Formula 1 operations in 2009, handing control over to former team principal Martin Whitmarsh. However, after the team’s worst season since 1980, Whitmarsh was relieved of his duties and replaced by former Lotus team principal Eric Boullier. After such a period of failure, Dennis felt that such drastic action was required.

“It was, of course, painful,” he explained in an interview with the official Formula 1 website. “If you pass executive responsibilities, the only way you can judge the outcome is if it is one hundred percent, otherwise you can accuse yourself of influencing the decisions.

“In the end I felt that the right thing to do was to change direction – to refocus the team and remove from the team anything that was not contributing to a focused effort. There were too many in the team that were distracted by other activities.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Dennis also spoke about his decision to promote Kevin Magnussen into a race seat so quickly and replace the more experienced Sergio Perez.

“The decision to take Kevin was mine,” he revealed. “It was only possible to take Kevin because of my decision – that would be accurate. I took the decision because I felt that we needed to see if he could meet the expectations of our engineers, and so far he has done a great job.”

Magnussen has indeed justified the decision to take him on, having finished his debut race on the podium in Australia last month.

After a few years away, the time is right for Dennis to have returned. His no-nonsense approach had rustled a few feathers in the sport, including those of former FIA president Max Mosley and Lewis Hamilton’s father, Anthony. With both of those figures no longer in the sport, though, he is able to once again rule McLaren in his distinct and – it must be said – successful style.

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