Thursday, 31 May 2007

Ron Dennis and his drive to win

I am currently reading Tim Rubython’s excellent and comprehensive biography of Ayrton Senna: The Life of Senna (ISBN 0-954687-3-3). I came across an interesting quote from Ron Dennis last night. The year is 1993, a time when the Mclaren, which Senna was driving, was struggling to compete with the far superior Williams’ of Alain Prost and Damon Hill. The comments were made in the build up to the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril where Prost clinched the world championship after finishing second to Michael Schumacher.

Feeling the strain of being uncompetitive, Dennis said, in what could equally have been the words of Senna:

"I want to win each and every race. I know it sounds trite, but I really do. I don't feel discomfort in saying that I want to win them all. In fact, I want to finish first and second. When we're not, I'm bad news to live with. And that's at 46. I handle it better than I did when I was 36, and I've had the experience of success. But the pain of failure is such an incentive to succeed that you don't need anyone barbing you or motivating you. I am just a terrible loser. When I say that, I don't mean in a sporting sense. I may be able to go and have a drink and feel relaxed, but the pain is there all the time. It's the eyes opening on a Monday morning when the first thing that comes into your brain is 'was there a Grand Prix the day before?' and the second thing is 'where did we finish?' If it is anywhere other than first, the next thing is more pain."

I thought it would be appropriate to post this given the row over team orders at Monaco last week. In what is a stark contrast to Ferrari during the Schumacher years, I don’t think Ron Dennis cares which of his drivers win so long as they finish first and second. I think Monaco was a special case because of its unpredictability and, as the FIA pointed out in their statement, because of the much higher chance of a safety car scenario. Dennis knows that the rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso can only make his team stronger so it would be foolish not to let them race down to the wire at other circuits.

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