F1 recognised in New Year Honours

F1 recognised in New Year Honours

The New Year Honours see Christian Horner made an OBE, while former McLaren boss Ron Dennis receives a Knighthood.

“It was an unexpected distinction a decade ago to be presented with an OBE and to receive this second award, a CBE, is one for which I am hugely grateful and deeply honoured,” said Horner, whose latest honour elevates him to the status of Commander of the Order of the British Empire and again recognises his achievements in F1 and the wider motorsport industry.

“It is a great privilege to lead and work alongside such a phenomenal team as Red Bull and also to work in an industry that contributes so much to the United Kingdom’s economy.

“I am enormously proud of what we have achieved with Red Bull in Formu and in the wider high technology arena and I am hugely honoured to be recognised for that effort.”

The Knighthood for Dennis is only fitting, the Woking-born former McLaren boss having done so much for the team and for motorsport.

When Bernie Ecclestone bought the Brabham F1 team, Dennis, a former mechanic to Jack Brabham, left and founded Rondel with Neil Trundle. Successful in F2 and F3, plans to enter F1 were thwarted by a lack of the requisite backing.

However, Dennis had commissioned John Barnard to design an F1 car which would have a carbonfibre monocoque. Prior to this he had also been preparing the cars for the Procar Championship, the series which used BMW M1 coupes and formed part of the Grand Prix weekends in 1979 and 1980, which saw many top F1 drivers taking part.

Having established a reputation second to none for his standards and had also forged close links with Marlboro. At the end of 1980, and with the assistance of Marlboro, Dennis took 50% of McLaren shares and became, with Teddy Mayer, joint managing director. Within 18 months Dennis was in sole charge.

At the beginning of 1981, the new Barnard design, the MP4 was unveiled: ‘M’ for ‘McLaren’, ‘P4’ for ‘Project 4’. John Watson ended McLaren’s drought of success by winning the British GP. Then Dennis pulled off a master-stroke and persuaded Niki Lauda to come out of retirement. Though the cars would use DFV engines until the end of 1983, the chassis was so sweet that Lauda would take two wins and Watson three.

The first turbocharged McLaren ran before the end of 1983 with an engine built by Porsche, but labelled TAG. Techniques Avant Garde, a company founded by Mansour Ojeh, had bought into McLaren International, as the company had become, both to use Formula One as a flagship for its other activities and to cooperate with McLaren on various hi-tech developments.

The rest, as they say is history. McLaren went on to win 12 drivers’ titles with the likes of Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen, and 8 constructors’.

Though he stepped down in 2009 he returned just a few years later, however the team was never to come close to its former glory days.

A falling out with Ojeh saw him leave Woking once again in 2016, his departure leading to a long drawn out battle which caused McLaren to increasingly depend on foreign investment.

Away from F1 Dennis has served as co-chair of the Defence Innovation Advisory Panel for the Ministry of Defence and is the current patron and former co-chairman and founding trustee of Tommy’s Campaign. During the Covid crisis it was revealed that Dennis was the driving force behind a scheme to provide one million free meals to NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis, having been alerted to the problems facing NHS workers by his daughter Charlotte, who is an anaesthetist at an intensive care unit.

Though no fans of the honours system, most of which sees the truly deserving remain unrecognised while the plaudits go to various cronies, Pitpass offers its sincere congratulations to both Christian Horner and especially Ron Dennis, or Sir Ron as he will now be known.

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