Who among us thinks Ron Dennis should stay in his job? Ron Dennis for one, who on Sunday announced in the News of the World that he was not going to quit because "I do not think it would be in the best interests of the team." How much more proof do we need of how far out of touch he has become?
If any normal British business was found in possession of that much illicitly acquired information belonging to its closest rival, its chief executive would not need to be sacked because, in all likelihood, he’d have reached for his hat and coat on the day he first became aware of it. Yet Dennis continues despite the fact that, far from the information belonging to just one rogue employee as originally stated, it had clearly become much more widely disseminated throughout his organisation. And despite his protestations that there was no way any of this information could possibly have been used in the design of any McLaren, we now hear that, according to Autosport, "Ferrari-inspired parts were being considered for their 2008 car", eliciting an apology to the FIA and Ferrari that would have carried substantially more weight if it had been issued sooner.
Personally, I don’t doubt that Dennis told the truth, inasmuch as he knew it, from start to finish, and I believe entirely that he had no hand in all the ghastly goings-on that have clearly occurred during 2007. But not knowing is not good enough – the fact remains that he should have known. Indeed, given the breadth and depth of the scandal, it seems almost incredible that something involving so many senior people over such a long period of time could possibly have transpired without his knowledge. But it appears it has. That lack of knowledge has helped damage the team’s reputation around the world, and we’ll only know next spring how much it has damaged the team from within. It seems barely believable that it can have had no effect on the performance of the 2008 car.
We all know where the buck is meant to stop in organisations such as McLaren, but until Dennis steps up and steps down, I fear it’s going to continue smashing its way through the most successful British F1 team in history. No one person is bigger than that.