Dennis raises stakes with McLaren F1 exit threat

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The Independent Online

Ron Dennis has threatened to withdraw his McLaren-Mercedes team from Formula One by 2008 if agreement is not reached between the teams, the governing body of international motor sport, the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management organisation to achieve greater transparency in the way the sport is run and a greater share of the commercial rights for all of the teams.

Ron Dennis has threatened to withdraw his McLaren-Mercedes team from Formula One by 2008 if agreement is not reached between the teams, the governing body of international motor sport, the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management organisation to achieve greater transparency in the way the sport is run and a greater share of the commercial rights for all of the teams.

McLaren are second only to Ferrari in Formula One wins, but Dennis said yesterday: "We want to be in a position whereby we do not have to take part in F1 as it is from 2008. We want to have a choice to take McLaren out of F1 if necessary."

Dennis's comments are the most critical attack yet on Ecclestone's stewardship by supporters of the breakaway Grand Prix World Championship, and came on the day that the Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello tipped McLaren to start the year more strongly than his team.

"We no longer have the advantage that we could enjoy a year ago," Barrichello said. "At the moment I think McLaren and Renault are slightly ahead. But we're not going to panic."

McLaren's former driver, David Coulthard, will have Christian Klien as his team-mate at Red Bull Racing when the season starts at the Australian Grand Prix on 6 March.

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