Williams and Mclaren have a lost history in Formula One and used to be the giants of the sport. With Ron Dennis gone and Fernando Alonso surely tempted by the vacancy at Mercedes, Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has suggested it’s an end of an era at McLaren.
On Dennis’ departure, Williams said,
“For someone who has contributed so much to this sport I think it’s a real shame.
Williams and McLaren have had our feuds over the years but there has always been an understanding between Ron and [Sir] Frank [Williams].
It’s the end of an era. I don’t know the ins and outs what has gone on, that’s not my business, but for F1 to lose someone of Ron’s stature is a shame. There is all this business about the next generation of team principals, but Ron still has his finger on the pulse.
He has created an almost billion dollar business which employs 3,500 people and is a road car business, a technology business and one of the most successful Formula 1 teams.
All of that is under Ron’s watch. You can’t take that away from him.”
– Claire Williams
Since his departure, everything that has happened at McLaren away from the track suggests that another year of “recovery” is on the cards for 2017. Newly appointed boss and “Marketing Guru” Zak Brown has announced that a major sponsor will only be sought in 2018. ExxonMobil, a company that has been involved with McLaren for 21 years has severed ties and joined Red Bull. The cherry on top is the current speculation surrounding Fernando Alonso’s potential move to Mercedes.
So away from the circuit, the team appears to be in a weaker position. This puts added pressure on the McLaren drivers next year, whoever they are. Stoffel Vandoorne has already shown his capabilities and looks to be a promising driver. His 10th in Bahrain this year was very impressive, but if the team were to lose Alonso, there would be a last minute grapple to try and secure an experienced Formula One driver.
Given the lack of a major sponsor and Exxonmobil’s departure, the team simply need to look more attractive next season, so results on track might have an even greater implication than usual, especially from a commercial perspective.
Most of us have grown up in an era in which McLaren have been one of the teams to beat. A top outfit that can pick up multiple wins across a season, challenge for and indeed win titles.
Dennis’ departure does spell the end of an era, but the new one will be heavily defined by the race team and driver’s at McLaren next year, and there is a sense that 2017 will be crucial in determining their long-term future. McLaren simply can’t afford to lose Alonso.