We could have kept Hamilton, says Dennis
4 January 2013 – Ron Dennis, former McLaren Team Principal and now Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, has revealed that the outfit could have retained Lewis Hamilton for the 2013 Formula 1 campaign, but instead opted not to. The 2008 World Champion announced a three-year deal with rivals Mercedes last September.
Having spent six seasons with McLaren, debuting at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton has been unable to build upon his sole title success of 2008. He is eager to change this statistic through what he describes as 'a fresh start' at the Silver Arrows, but Dennis says the 27-year-old's move was more than just a personal choice.
"I think it’s wrong to portray that Lewis left this team," Dennis explained to The Business Voice magazine. "At the end of the day, you end up with a situation where you’re going to separate if the circumstances aren’t right. Life isn’t about one person deciding anything. It’s never that way. It’s about circumstances.
"Everybody says: ‘Am I bitterly this or bitterly that?’ What? I’m a realist. Did we have the ability to create a situation where we could have stayed together? Categorically, yes. Would that have been the right thing to do? We didn’t think so."
Dennis went on to discuss Hamilton's future in more detail, explaining that although he is 'not wishing anything negative' on the 21-time race winner as he prepares to begin his Mercedes career, he hopes McLaren can reign supreme on-track.
"Whatever people choose to do at the end of a contractual period, the professional thing to do is to be supportive of the other side," said Dennis, who left his Formula 1 role in 2009. "We don’t wish him every success at Mercedes – that’s understandable, as he’s obviously going to be a competitor – but we don’t wish him anything negative."
Sergio Pérez has replaced Hamilton at McLaren on a 'multi-year' agreement, joining Jenson Button who is entering a fourth season with the Woking-based squad in 2013.