Dennis: No title sponsor for opening race
6 March 2014 – Ron Dennis has confirmed that McLaren will be without a title sponsor at next weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but he expects the gap to be filled in the early stages of the campaign.
The Woking-based team has been on the hunt for a new partner since cutting its ties with telecommunications giant Vodafone at the end of last year, a relationship that spanned a total of seven Formula 1 seasons.
"Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event," Dennis explained, addressing media at the McLaren Technology Centre on Thursday. "But it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events."
He likened McLaren and its current position to that of famous football team Manchester United.
"Inevitably, when you have a run of poor results people push the rate card down. But I won't accept that. I know what this company is," said Dennis. "I know what this Grand Prix team can achieve and that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with the principal sponsor of the team."
Dennis went on to discuss his restructuring of the outfit, which has seen Eric Boullier take on the newly-created position of Racing Director, with the Team Principal role formerly held by Martin Whitmarsh disappearing.
With speculation rising as to who will become the permanent CEO of the squad, Dennis has not ruled out the possibility of Jonathan Neale, currently holding the role on an interim basis, getting the full-time nod.
"Jonathan accepts that he is nominated on a day to day basis. But effectively, not only would he love to have the job, he may well do the job," said Dennis. "Whoever may or may not be considered for that position, it will be against his [Neale's] abilities and his commitment and whatever the situation is at that moment of time.
"The key thing to understand is that supplementing Jonathan's, Eric's and Sam's [Michael] capabilities with my own, for a short period of time, is adequately going to address the challenge of winning in Formula 1.
"And ultimately with such an important decision, it will not be mine and mine alone. I would expect to share that with the shareholders and key individuals. But it is not, at the moment, at the top of my must do list."
Also on Thursday:
Dennis silent over Whitmarsh's future