The signing of the former CEO of McLaren Racing at the time of Ron Dennis shows that Lawrence Stroll has a definite and ambitious plan t
The signing of the former CEO of McLaren Racing at the time of Ron Dennis shows that Lawrence Stroll has a definite and ambitious plan to make Aston Martin succeed.
The Canadian millionaire Lawrence Stroll acquired and rescued the British luxury car company from bankruptcy in late 2019. After years of heavy losses, an aging range and without relevant technical agreements with giants in the sector, it was a bottomless pit where Stroll would end up losing up to its shirt. The prevailing opinion spoke of a ‘petrolhead’ blinded by his passion for cars and without the clairvoyance that had led him to be immensely wealthy as an entrepreneur in the textile sector.
The objective of the signing of Whitmarsh is clear and is none other than replicating the model that made McLaren a reference in the super sports car sector and at the organizational level in Formula 1. Whitmarsh will be in charge of two hundred million euros of Stroll’s personal fortune dedicated to building a technology campus in the team’s humble current headquarters in Silverstone, to turn it in five years into a team capable of rubbing shoulders with any other of the greats of Formula 1.
Whitmarsh was president of the teams association for the past decade, and paid the price for his generosity to the Brawn team.
The second hit
Stroll gave a new blow of effect renaming as Aston Martin F1 to the team Racing Point, also rescued from bankruptcy a year earlier. Although the goal was to use it as a lever for the strategic promotion of the newly acquired brand, the skepticism here was even greater. The feeling of acquiring a team predominated so that his son Lance would have a secured steering wheel on the Formula 1 grid, nothing to do with strategic industrial or marketing decisions.
But the Canadian mogul is not here to fulfill a personal fantasy or to enjoy watching his ‘boy’ at the races. Stroll’s bet is solid, and the latest signing of Martin Whitmarsh as Aston Martin Chief Technology Officer and Operations it confirms it. It is not the only flashy signing that Stroll has made lately, along with Whitmarsh have come Dan Fallows as a RedBull aerodynamicist, Luca Furbatto as a designer from Alfa Romeo, or Renato Bisignani, an ex-Ferrari, in charge of Marketing and communication .
Withmarsh assisted in Alonso’s return with Honda, but had to leave the team in his confrontation with Dennis when the relationship with the Japanese began.
Create a ‘new McLaren’
Opinions in the paddock are divided about Martin Whitmarsh. From those who consider him one of the most brilliant professionals who have passed through this sport, to those who blame him for the decline of McLaren, a team that under his new command was the most perfect on the grid, but ended up on the brink of disappearance when the British engineer left the team in 2015. The debate about the culprit of the clamorous fall varies. On the one hand, there are those who consider Whitmarsh the victim of all the excesses of Ron Dennis. Others think Ron Dennis’ biggest mistake was leaving the team to Whitmarsh.
Maybe it’s good to go back to 2007 and the ‘civil war’ at McLaren that ended losing the titles, Fernando Alonso leaving the team with boxes out of order and with a 100 million euro fine from the FIA to McLaren on account of the murky matter of industrial espionage, which in fact had much more than personal vendetta of then FIA President Max Mosley to Ron Dennis. But Fernando Alonso He considered that Whitmarsh did not have much to blame for the praiseworthy words of welcome he gave him on his return to Formula 1. “He’s a very smart guy, a good leader too, it’s a shame he’s not in our team even though we have very good people too, but for Aston Martin it is sure to be a great help. It is good that people like the one who deserve a lot of recognition are returning to this sport ”. Usually sparing in praise, it speaks volumes for his fond memory of Whitmarsh as a manager.
Most of the drivers who have worked with Whitmarsh, such as Pedro de la Rosa, Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton have excellent memories of him.
Dennis or Whitmarsh mistakes?
Despite being theoretically removed from management, Ron Dennis imposed decisions against Whitmarsh’s judgment that proved fatal to McLaren. Let’s look at some examples: Dennis ruined the relationship he was lovingly building with Czech Pérez and crucially with your sponsor Carlos Slim. In 2009, Whitmarsh was betting on evolving the triumphant car from the previous year to the final year of regulation, while Ron Dennis set his sights on developing a totally revolutionary new concept. Dennis’s stubbornness caused a resounding failure, giving the title to the Brawn team, which ironically carried the same Mercedes engine.
However, there was a ruling that Dennis never forgave Whitmarsh. Brawn was able to use the Mercedes engines that until then had been exclusively enjoyed by McLaren thanks to the intervention of Martin Whitmarsh for his newborn team. He was the president of the team association at the time, and felt he had to do what he could to enable Brawn to compete in the face of the simultaneous withdrawal of BMW, Honda, Toyota and Renault. In hindsight thanks to that decision, Brawn took the title in 2009 and put his purchase for Mercedes on a platter. McLaren had worn out its relationship with the German manufacturer due to the repeated reputational conflicts that Ron Dennis had generated with the FIA, the media and sponsors such as Vodafone, Santander or ExxonMobil, who one after another left the team before the excessive demands of a Dennis who lived in still a bubble and uncalibrated change around the world since the financial crisis of 2008.
Since his departure from McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh has held important positions, such as CEO of the British challenge in the America’s Cup.
The end of the war
Dennis also bungled a sponsor sponsored by Whitmarsh for an amount close to $ 25 million! For thinking that this was “too little money for McLaren.” Then, he fired him in a bad way in a decision not agreed with his partner Mansour ojjeh, always great supporter of Whitmarsh. A dismissal that he understood as an unforgivable betrayal by Dennis, whom he considered a great professional and a good friend, and without even consulting him.
McLaren hit rock bottom and Dennis was fired three years later by the rest of McLaren shareholders. Meanwhile, Whitmarsh has served as CEO of the British America’s Cup sailing challenge, or advisor to Formula E. But the British engineer has long dreamed of returning to Formula 1. Time’s verdict points to Withmarsh as great. manager, but perhaps without the vision or ruthlessness of great leaders. But with that plot covered by Lawrence Stroll, this is an extraordinary signing that could be key to making Aston Martin great. Let McLaren, Porsche or Ferrari take note: A powerful rival is growing.