Woking, Monday: New McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has dismissed what he calls “scurrilous rumours” that his predecessor, Ron Dennis, is terminally ill, stating that his former superior is in perfect health and has transferred power at McLaren “to focus on other projects.”

Ill? McLaren CEO Ron Dennis
Ill? McLaren CEO Ron Dennis

“Ron is perfectly healthy,” Whitmarsh said today. “Simply put, he is too old and tired to be dealing with the day-to-day running of the team, so he has transferred that responsibility to me. However, we will still be consulting Ron on the most important McLaren matters, so important is he to the stability and well-being of the team.”

Rival team Ferrari has re-asserted its belief that Dennis is suffering from a terminal illness, pointing to the fact that he hasn’t been posting on his blog as much recently as evidence of his declining health.

Dennis rose to power at McLaren in 1981 after a “glorious revolution takeover,” deposing former shareholders Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander. Despite significant external pressure from Ferrari and the FIA, Dennis was able to consolidate his rule and build a competitive team. The outfit suffered in the mid-1990s following the collapse of close ally Brabham, but since then has built up a thriving headquarters and has now regained some of its lost pace.

Global rumours circulate continuously about McLaren having “the shiniest gravel in the known world,” though Ferrari have always denied these claims, citing their own investigations which apparently revealed that “though somewhat shiny, McLaren’s gravel pales in comparison to other teams, whose gravel washers are better qualified and better paid.”

Rumours that Ferrari may soon attempt a full-scale takeover of McLaren, “renaturalising” several former Woking employees who have defected to Maranello since Dennis took control of the team, have been denied by Ferrari but are considered to be a distinct possibility.