Today marked the end of a dazzlingly successful era when Ron Dennis, the McLaren group chairman, announced that he was formally relinquishing any further involvement with the team’s World Championship grand prix programme.

Read more about McLaren's road car plans

Having passed the role of F1 team principal to his long-time number two Martin Whitmarsh, Ron has now decided to throw his efforts exclusively behind a programme to develop a range of pure McLaren sports cars. As part of this plan it is intended that McLaren Automotive will become an independent company later this year.

Dennis’s inscrutable countenance has been ever-present on the pit wall since he took operational control of McLaren in 1980. Since then the cars from Woking have won world championships in 1984, ’85 and ’86 (with TAG turbo engines), 1988, ’89, ’90 and ’91 (with Honda power) and in 1998, 99 and 2008 (with Mercedes power).