Now ousted from the team he lead to prominence is Ron Dennis planning a takeover of Manor F1 as a means of gaining revenge on McLaren?
Towards the end of the 2016 Formula One season it became clear that Manor Racing owner Stephen Fitzpatrick was trying to sell the team and had been in serious discussions with Tavo Hellmund, promoter of the United States and Mexican Grand Prix about a possible sale. However when the team lost out to Sauber for 10th place in the Championship and the associated future prize fund money, thanks to Felipe Nasr’s inspired drive in Brazil, those talks stalled.
Former Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon had also been talking to Fitzpatrick and was hoping to use Indonesian businessman Ricardo Gelael’s money to fund a purchase, but those talks had also floundered as the season went on.
Ron Dennis’ “Project 4″ merged with the original McLaren Racing in 1980 to form McLaren International and at one time he owned all the shares, but over the years divested his holding to finance first the TAG-Porsche engine program and then to partner with Daimler AG for Mercedes engines.
In his efforts to buy out his former partners at McLaren, Ron Dennis put together a consortium of Chinese investors to purchase the 75% of shares he did not own. His UKP1.65bn ($2.04bn) bid was turned down. Add to that the 25% holding that Dennis could sell if he moved on to a new team.
With that kind of capital at his disposal the purchase of Manor Racing would be comparative peanuts. The team has a new factory in Banbury and a contract with his old friends at Mercedes for engines. That would leave plenty of cash left over to invest in new equipment and staff. Speaking of which…
The current Manor Racing Director Dave Ryan spent a large part of his career working for Dennis at McLaren before departing in 2009 and recently released McLaren Chief Executive Jost Capito, hand picked by Dennis, is now free to join another team.
The pieces fit together well, so let’s see if Ron is going to be taking a drive up the M40 from Woking to Banbury before pre-season testing starts this year.