In photos: Ron Dennis' Formula 1 journey
16 November 2016 – Ron Dennis confirmed on Tuesday that he has been forced out at McLaren, after a 36-year stint. GPUpdate.net looks through the photo archives and selects some standout moments from his time in Formula 1.
1960s: Cooper debut, switch to Brabham
Dennis, born in Woking, left school at 16 and became an apprentice mechanic at Thompson & Taylor, while also studying motor vehicle engineering at Guildford Technical College. When Thompson & Taylor was purchased by the Chipstead Group, Dennis moved to a subsidiary, the Cooper Car Company, where he began his motorsport career. Still in his teens, Dennis stepped up to Cooper's Formula 1 operation in 1967, working with Jochen Rindt and Pedro Rodríguez. Rindt made the switch to Brabham for 1968, and took Dennis (working above) with him.
1970s: Dennis goes his own way
After Jack Brabham's retirement, Dennis and a colleague, Neil Trundle, started their own team. Founded in 1971, Rondel Racing soon found backing in the form of French oil company Motul, and Ray Jessop was called on to design a Formula 1 car, only for the 1973 oil crisis to scupper their plans. In 1975, Dennis set up Project Three, and in the late 1970s progressed to Project Four, which competed in Formula 2, Formula 3 and Procar racing. Dennis can be seen above with McLaren racer John Watson and Project 4 designer John Barnard.
1980: McLaren stint begins
In September 1980, Marlboro engineered Project Four's takeover of McLaren, which had been struggling for results. Dennis, in his 30s, managed the operation, and the team ended a near four-year victory drought at the 1981 British Grand Prix, with Barnard's revolutionary carbon fibre composite chassis, piloted by Watson.
1984: First world title with Lauda
McLaren's results improved under Dennis' guidance and it came close to claiming both titles in 1982, Watson missing out by five points, and the outfit trailing Ferrari by the same margin. It regrouped and challenged again two years later, this time with Niki Lauda and Alain Prost (back) at the wheel. McLaren dominated with its MP4/2, taking 12 wins from 16 races, and both titles, Lauda beating Prost by just half a point. It did the double again in 1985, with Prost securing the first of four titles, as Lauda endured a tough season, in which he broke his wrist.
1988-1991: McLaren-Honda dominance
After two more seasons with TAG-badged Porsche engines, McLaren switched to Honda power for the 1988 season and embarked on a sensational run, securing both world titles for four successive seasons. Dennis oversaw the rapid but acrimonious partnership of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which unsurprisingly split up after one title each. Senna added two more championships alongside Gerhard Berger in 1990 and 1991.
1998: Häkkinen ends the drought
Honda exited Formula 1 at the end of the 1992 season and left McLaren scrambling for a competitive engine supply deal. Ford and Peugeot both came and went in a flash, before Mercedes arrived to kick off of a 19-year relationship. McLaren finished fourth for four straight seasons from 1994 to 1997, but 1998 marked the next breakthrough. Mika Häkkinen beat Michael Schumacher, while McLaren overcame Ferrari. Häkkinen added another Drivers' title in 1999, but Ferrari this time beat McLaren to the Constructors' trophy by four points.
2008: Next title with Hamilton
McLaren went on to endure another lengthy spell without a title, as Ferrari and Renault found the winning formula. It stepped up its game in 2007, but was excluded from the Constructors' standings amid the Spygate scandal, while Kimi Räikkönen's late-season charge overhauled both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Hamilton, though, made amends the following year, earning his maiden title, and the team's first in nine years.
2016: Forced out at McLaren
Dennis became involved in a behind-the-scenes power struggle with his fellow shareholders and, after a failed High Court attempt to prevent suspension, which followed the tabling of a reported £1.6 billion takeover bid from a Chinese consortium, he was ultimately forced out of the operation. Dennis has been placed on gardening leave until his contract expires in January, after which he plans to launch a new technology investment fund.