Don’t you feel sorry for Ron Dennis?
Despite what appearances to the contrary, Ron Dennis, the head man at McLaren’s Formula One team, is not trying stand-up comedy. Apparently, he’s serious.
Dennis is afraid that the F1 title will be “tainted” if McLaren wins it and the FIA Court of Appeals doesn’t rule that McLaren is completely innocent of misconduct in the theft of Ferrari team secrets.
"If we do not come out of that Court of Appeal with an unblemished reputation then the results of this season will be tainted.
I know the truth and the truth is that McLaren as a company are not involved in this matter. And I just do not want to find through some process that our reputation is damaged. The rumors and spin that I have heard about this matter just leave me amazed. I cannot believe that people can construct some inaccurate views based on no fact whatsoever and be quite comfortable to project them into the pack as being true. It is ridiculous."
Really? “McLaren as a company are not involved?”
All of the top officials at McLaren were fully aware that the team’s chief engineer had possession of 780 pages of confidential documents stolen from Ferrari, including documents which disclosed Ferrari team strategy. Renault F1 chief, Flavio Briatore, has bluntly said that he believes McLaren used the information, implying that the team benefited from the stolen Ferrari information in making the change from Michelin to Bridgestone tires this season.
Dennis himself knew these documents were in chief engineer Mike Coughlan’s possession and did absolutely nothing about it. Though McLaren’s top officials claim they told Coughlan to destroy the documents, that wasn’t what they should have done, and wasn’t in any degree honest conduct. What they should have done is informed either the FIA or Ferrari or both. What they did do, by their own admission, is tell Coughlan to destroy the documents. Criminals usually want to destroy the evidence of their crimes, of course.
A company acts through its employees and all of the top members of the McLaren team, i.e., “company,” were in on this. Dennis and other top members of the team are lucky they’re not being prosecuted, or at least investigated, by British authorities for criminal possession of stolen property.
That’s not “spin” or an “inaccurate view.” It is what Dennis has admitted he and his team members did and didn’t do.
Dennis’s effort to portray the McLaren team as somehow an entity separate from its top officials and, thereby innocent of the acts committed by its employees, is specious. If Dennis wanted to be sure the championship would be free of taint, all he had to do was behave as would any honest man. He didn’t and now he’s whining about the consequences.
Sunday night, Jean Todt, Ferrari team manager, stated that it “will be very important this hearing of the 13th (September). We want the truth to appear. And it will appear. That is something for me, which for Ferrari, for the sport, for me, I want it to appear. And it will appear."
Unless Todt’s bluffing, the implication of his remarks is that Ferrari has information implicating McLaren more deeply that McLaren has admitted, and intends to present it at the hearing. Ferrari was not allowed to participate in earlier FIA proceedings on the matter.
Dennis isn’t even being consistent.
If McLaren “as a company” is innocent of misconduct because the bad things were done by its employees, not by it, then why would the championship be “tainted”?
And if McLaren “as a company” is somehow separate from Dennis and his cohorts, it ought to fire the lot of them. “As a company,” McLaren is entitle to expect more from its top executives than getting the “company” embroiled in a scandal that threatens to “taint” its championship.
But to put it that was merely illustrates how “ridiculous” Dennis’s statements are. McLaren’s not going to fire him because he is McLaren. It’s not going to fire any of the others involved, other than Coughlan (who it has to fire to pretend it’s innocent),either.
The FIA Court of Appeals hearing begins on September 13th.