McLaren boss to stand down

Ron Dennis has confirmed he will step down as team principal of McLaren from 1 March.

Dennis dropped the bombshell at the end of the launch of McLaren's new challenger for the forthcoming Formula One season at the team's technology centre in Woking.

Dennis, who has been in charge of McLaren since 1981, will hand over the reins to his long-standing right-hand man and CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

"It's absolutely time for Martin to take over the job of team principal, so as of 1 March, Martin will adopt that position," confirmed Dennis.

"I will still go to races - not all of them - because I am still passionate about Formula One.

"But don't see this as a form of retirement. It's very much the opposite because I will now be working harder in other areas.

"I will now take on more responsibility, greater responsibility, in certain key areas of the group.

"I am going to raise my own game because everybody realises this is a tough period in which to work.

"We are a very diverse organisation and we have a number of other projects ongoing, including the development of our road car, and that is going to be a real challenge.

"I will still be full executive chairman. But it's time, and it's absolutely 100 per cent my decision. It's what I want to do."

Dennis' news came after reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton had delivered his verdict on the new car - the MP4-24 - and his attempt to retain the title he won in spectacular fashion on the final lap of the last race of last season.

"I don't see the fact that I am world champion will add to the pressure on my shoulders for next season," said Hamilton.

"I've obviously a little bit of extra confidence and I've reset my goals, reset my targets back to when I started out in Formula One and that's to be world champion.

"That's not me sitting here saying, 'I am world champion', I am sitting here saying, 'I want to be world champion'."