The elevation of Martin Whitmarsh to the position of McLaren F1 team principal has been a long time a coming.

_I4V3453 The news is no surprise, but it will be fascinating to see how the 50-year old former aerospace engineer stamps his identity on a task that has for so long been the property of Ron Dennis.

"I've been waiting almost 19 years for the top job," Whitmarsh told me a couple of years ago, "but I'm patient and I'm not going anywhere. But it must be Ron's decision, and Ron's decision alone, when the time comes for him to stand down. Believe me, nobody wants him to stand down more than I do, but he has to judge when is the right moment to do it."

Dennis finally made that decision late last year. I remember that at Monza he told me that he would probably not be attending all the Grands Prix in 2009, but swore me to secrecy.

That, and the fact Lewis Hamilton won the world championship, convinced me that Whitmarsh would officially be anointed in his new role of team principal before the start of this year's world championship campaign.

ZD2J3750 There could be no better man for the job. During his long apprenticeship, Martin struck just the right balance of forcefulness and deference in his relationship with his new boss.

Sometimes the two of them appeared almost stiflingly formal with each other. Equally there were moments when they could behave like schoolboys on a day out. It is a tribute to Whitmarsh's deft political touch, knowing when to speak up and when to keep his trap shut, that the partnership worked so well.

The only thing needed to complete the perfect picture is a knighthood for Dennis. And soon.