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McLaren to start 2014 season naked

2014-03-07 10:21

McLAREN TO DRIVE NAKED: The Mercedes-powered cars - this is Jenson Button's - will start the 2014 F1 season without a title sponsor but expects one to come along eventually. Image: AFP


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LONDON, England - McLaren will start the 2014 F1 season without a title sponsor but still expects to have one in 2014.

Group chief executive Ron Dennis said (Mar 6): "Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event but will some time at the next few races."

McLaren was sponsored by mobile telecoms giant Vodafone during 2013. The team had planned to reveal a new title partner in December 2013 but the appointed day came and went without any announcement.


2013 was the team's first season without a podium since 1980, a failure that led to a management restructuring with former principal and minority shareholder Dennis reasserting himself.

Dennis, 66, said the formal title of team principal had been scrapped would not discuss the fate of former incumbent Martin Whitmarsh, although they had been in touch and remained friends.

The group chief executive painted a bright financial future for the team, the second most successful in F1 history after Ferrari in terms of race wins and total titles, and compared it to ailing soccer team Manchester United. The UK Premier League champions have been off-form since the retirement of Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2013/2014 season.

Dennis said: "Inevitably when you have a run of poor results, people try to push the rate card down. I won't accept that. I know what this company is and what it's GP team can achieve. And that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with a principal sponsor.

"We are negotiating with several partners and I think it will happen sooner rather than later."

Dennis said money was not an issue, with the overall McLaren Group - which includes the sports-car company and applied technology division - having turnover in excess of  R160 billion, and aiming to "sail past a billion and achieve two billion within five years".

The F1 restructuring, he added, would allow the team to focus on being competitive, with former Lotus principal Eric Boullier joining as racing director to deliver results on the track without distractions.


Boullier will report to a McLaren racing chief executive, who has yet to be appointed, with Dennis in overall control without being active at race weekends. Dennis, who has been in F1 since he started as a Cooper mechanic in 1966, explained that he would be present at the season's early races as an observer and would not wear the team uniform.

Dennis said: "The F1 team has no responsibilities for income. The new model for our F1 team is completely populated by people who have no other objective but winning in F1."

McLaren is switching to Honda engines in 2015 after racing this season with Mercedes power but Dennis said the team was not looking for a 'stopgap' solution to the title sponsor vacancy.

"We've turned away stopgaps," he said.

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