McLaren's Ron Dennis has confirmed the worst-kept secret in Formula One, announcing he will hand over control of the company's Formula One operations to Martin Whitmarsh.
Dennis' decision to relinquish control of the F1 team was revealed as part of a major restructure of the McLaren Group's corporate interests, which will see Dennis leading the company's Automotive division.
Whitmarsh will assume Dennis' previous role as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing with immediate effect, taking on the responsibility of reporting to the board in addition to his position as Team Principal of the F1 team.
Meanwhile, Dennis has been appointed Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, and will oversee the company's foundation and subsequent range launch in two years time.
The decision marks the end of Dennis' 27-year association with the F1 team, although the 62-year old said he won't be frustrated by the prospect of watching as a spectator from now on.
?I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was "yes",? he said.
?I duly attended it - albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.
?The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK - an activity I found surprisingly easy. I'd expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.?
In the wake of the 'stewardsgate' fiasco that has again engulfed McLaren, Dennis felt obliged to emphasise his decision to step down wasn't done to assist McLaren's cause when they face the FIA on April 29.
?I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
?Equally, I was the architect of today's restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.?