Updated to include statement from Ron Dennis.
It appears Jenson Button might not be the only familiar face missing from the McLaren garage during the 2017 Formula 1 season.
McLaren Technology Group shareholders forced Ron Dennis to step down from his position as chairman and CEO on Tuesday after 35 years with the company, according to BBC Sport.
Dennis joined the McLaren F1 program in 1980 before purchasing the team a year later. In 1985, Dennis founded McLaren Technology Group, whose subsidiaries now include McLaren Automotive and McLaren Racing Limited.
The 69-year-old owns 25 percent of McLaren Group, with Bahrain’s Mumtalakat investment fund and his long-time business associate Mansour Ojjeh owning 50 and 25 percent, respectively. People have speculated for some time Mumtalakat and Ojjeh want Dennis out because they feel his leadership style won’t benefit the company’s future.
When asked about these rumors, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner expressed how important Dennis is to F1, echoing the opinion of the sport’s CEO Bernie Ecclestone, according to ESPN F1.
“I only have the utmost respect of Ron,” Horner told Sky Sports News, via ESPN F1. “We’ve gone head-to-head and fought over sponsors, engineers, drivers, whatever, but he’s always played fair. It would be a great loss if he’s not involved, certainly for McLaren and also Formula 1.”
While at the Woking, U.K.-based company, Dennis has made significant contributions to the world of motorsport. McLaren has won seven F1 constructor titles, 10 driver titles and the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans with Dennis at the helm.
Under Dennis’ leadership, McLaren also produced some of the most spectacular road cars ever made including the F1, P1 and SLR McLaren, which was manufactured in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz.
Zak Brown, an American and prominent commercial figure in the sport, is believed to be McLaren’s shareholders’ first choice to replace Dennis, according to BBC Sport.
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Thumbnail photo via McLaren