Whitmarsh set to lose McLaren role

Andover Advertiser: Martin Whitmarsh became McLaren team principal in 2009 Martin Whitmarsh became McLaren team principal in 2009

Martin Whitmarsh's five-year reign as team principal of McLaren is poised to end following an internal coup inside the marque.

In the wake of a shareholders' meeting, McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis has returned to his role as group chief executive officer, a position he held for 20 years before passing on the baton to Whitmarsh in 2012.

It has been decided that after one of the McLaren's worst seasons in their history on track last year, changes are now required, even with the new campaign due to begin in less than a fortnight with the first pre-season test in Jerez.

McLaren have yet to issue any statement regarding Whitmarsh's role, but Press Association Sport understands he will not be at the helm come the first race in Australia in mid-March.

Although Dennis is again Group CEO, he has no intention of returning to his former role as team principal, a position he held from 1982 to 2009 when Whitmarsh stepped up to the plate.

But after five years of under-achievement, McLaren clearly believe the time is now right for a change, with Ross Brawn the man likely to take up the reins.

Brawn, one of the most successful men in F1, left Mercedes at the end of last year as the team opted for a top-level restructure, believing there was no room any more for the role of team principal.

Instead, Mercedes have opted for a triumvirate of power, with Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda the men in charge.

Brawn departed stating he would take stock of his career and would likely assess matters in the summer, but it is now almost certain McLaren will come calling earlier than he had anticipated.

In addressing the workforce at McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking on Thursday for 20 minutes, Dennis promised "there will be changes", and the team "will win again", at the end of which he was given a standing ovation.

In a statement issued by McLaren, Dennis said: "My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance.

"Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.

"During February, I will articulate a new group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it.

"I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of group chief executive officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective - which is to win at whatever we do."

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