Mike Stevens | Apr 16, 2009

McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis is expected to announce tonight he will cease all involvement in Formula One after a 27 year career.

He is set to remain in charge of the McLaren Group, but will hand over full control of F1 operations to Martin Whitmarsh, who was named Team Principal at the start of the season.

The decision to withdraw from his duties with McLaren's F1 arm is rumoured to be part of a deal to secure Lewis Hamilton's future with the Woking-based outfit.

Hamilton and his father Anthony had expressed grave concerns over their future in the sport following the 'stewardsgate' fiasco, believing McLaren had persuaded the World Champion to risk his reputation at the Albert Park steward's enquiry.

It was expected that Whitmarsh would be the key management figure to take the fall for the controversy, which sees McLaren face the World Motor Sport Council over claims of bringing the sport into disrepute.

But recent murmurs surrounding Dennis' alleged involvement had escalated in recent days, with the Times of London reporting that he may have contacted Dave Ryan between hearings.

f1_hamilton_021During the second hearing in Malaysia, Hamilton and Ryan maintained their original version of events, claiming the team hadn't instructed the 24-year old to allow Jarno Trulli to pass under yellow flags.

Stewards then however played an excerpt of the team's radio transmission from the event, unequivocally disproving their story.

This was highlighted in the FIA's list of charges brought against McLaren, which said:

“On 2 April, 2009, at a second hearing before the stewards of the Australian Grand Prix, (meeting in Malaysia) made no attempt to correct the untrue statement of 29 March but, on the contrary, continued to maintain that the statement was true, despite being allowed to listen to a recording of the team instructing Hamilton to let Trulli past and despite being given more than one opportunity to correct its false statement.”

One of the most polarising figures in Formula One, Dennis has been an outspoken political figure in the sport for three decades, leading McLaren through its greatest periods of dominance and overseeing the likes of Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Alain Prost's title reigns.

The news of his withdrawal from F1 is expected to be confirmed at a press conference in England this evening.

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