Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The MP4-24 was launched today, with McLaren hosting the event at their Technology Centre in Woking. The new car is heralded as a success already, simply by looking a lot better than the two that have already been released to the world - the Ferrari and Toyota.
However, the event was overshadowed somewhat by the announcement from Team Principal Ron Dennis that he would be leaving the role before the season begins. He'll be handing over to Martin Whitmarsh, who has already proven that he can handle the pressure by taking a much more active role as the 2008 season progressed.
Dennis's decision comes after months, even years, of speculation over his future. After the espionage affair with Ferrari, the media thought he may be about to retire, but Ron wanted to prove that he could return the car to winning form - legally. In 2008, with the help of his young star Lewis Hamilton, McLaren achieved another driver's title, and Ron had reached his objective.
Dennis has been with the team since 1981, and has achieved 10 Driver's titles, and 7 Constructor's in his time. He could be considered one of the most successful team principals within the sport, having led the team through such successful times.
This isn't the last we'll see of Ron Dennis, though. He's stepping down from the team principal role, but it's more of a step up, as he's taking on the full Chief Executive position of the entire McLaren Group of companies. Ron himself says that he will actually be working harder than he has done in the last few years, but he is glad because he won't have to schedule his year around each Grand Prix weekend.
It's a shame that Ron is stepping down, as he is a prominent figure in the paddock. Things will be different without him, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be bad. Already this year, we've seen a couple of amusing advertising campaigns from McLaren that seem to have clearly come from Whitmarsh rather than Dennis. There are also a few drivers and ex-drivers who have suffered under the hand of Ron Dennis, but his methods obviously work for some. His success with Lewis Hamilton won't be forgotten quickly, and it will be interesting to see how the defending champion gets on this year.