Whitmarsh 'unlikely' to stay on

Sunday 19-January-2014 10:22

With Ron Dennis' return to the helm at McLaren, former driver John Watson says it is "unlikely" Martin Whitmarsh will stay on as team boss.

Last year McLaren suffered their worst season since 1980 as the Woking team failed to achieve a single podium finish.

It was the latest in a series of disappointing stats for the team who have not won a Drivers' title since 2008 and last won the Constructors' back in 1998.

The team's woes ultimately resulted in former team boss Dennis taking charge of the operation as the new Group Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Group.

Already the 66-year-old has promised changes, one of which many are predicting could be Whitmarsh exit as team principal.

"Martin has a lot of talents as an individual, he is an exceptionally clever man, he has a different style to Ron and in fact this is not the first time that there has been an attempt to oust Martin from his position - one occurred about three years ago. But in relationship to whether he might stay or go, that is an issue for Martin and the company to determine," Watson, who spent six years with McLaren, told Sky Sports Online.

"Because Ron Dennis is saying he is not planning on becoming the Team Principal, he is effectively above that within the company - he is the boss, but is not going to be de facto day-to-day Team Principal - it is possible that Martin Whitmarsh could continue in that role, but it probably would be unlikely.

"I think Martin may choose either to find another position within the group of companies or maybe think of taking a leave of absence or moving elsewhere. But that will be an issue that will be discussed by the parties involved and Martin in particular."

As for talk of former Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn taking Whitmarsh's job, Watson believes if that does happen, it won't be any time soon.

"In terms of bringing someone in in the short-term, as far as I am aware Ross Brawn wouldn't be available because of whatever the terms are of his break between Mercedes and himself.

"Ross is effectively on holiday and I know he has a lot of fishing booked for the next number of months, so I don't think he is looking to jump back into the mainstream of Formula 1 in the short-term, but what happens beyond that is unknown.

"On a personal level, whilst the future package of McLaren and Honda is a very attractive one, if you think back to the heady days of McLaren in '98, '99 and then Ferrari winning 2000 through to 2004, there was a lot of not good feeling between the two teams and particularly at the top of the teams.

"So whether that can be put behind them and the two parties can come together and work as one, it would be an interesting scenario to see. Probably in my view it would be unlikely."

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