McLaren Group executive chairman Ron Dennis says he didn’t try to stop Lewis Hamilton leaving the team for Mercedes last year.
Hamilton got his F1 break courtesy of McLaren in 2007 over a decade after introducing himself as a ten-year-old to Ron Dennis and saying he wanted to drive for the team.
Dennis told McLaren’s website, in an interview to mark their 50th birthday, “Lewis knows that he’s part of the McLaren family and that, like that seed, he’s grown deep roots within our organisation.”
“Last year I didn’t seriously seek to prevent his efforts to explore new pastures with the Mercedes AMG F1 team – perhaps it was a necessary part of his maturation – but I’ll always remember his time with us very fondly, just as I’m very proud of having been McLaren’s CEO and team principal when he became world champion with us in 2008.”
“I recently read a very nice quote from Lewis,” Dennis continued, “in which he said that, unlike other drivers who had joined McLaren once they’d already raced in F1, his apprenticeship with the team in his youth meant that he was a seed that had grown within McLaren, which I thought was an extremely eloquent way of putting it.”
Dennis stepped down as team principal shortly after Hamilton’s championship triumph and is now forging ahead with the company’s road car programme.
“McLaren has been hugely successful for decades, and collectively we should be very proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said. “Our first aspiration must therefore be to maintain the very high standards that we’ve already set, to regain success on the track, to develop and sell the world’s most exciting and best-in-class road cars, and to exceed the expectations of our partners in every field in which we do business.”