McLaren reject claims staff are ready to mutiny and rule out Martin Whitmarsh return
Boss Zak Brown rejects depiction of unhappy team; But refuses to comment on speculation of big money offer to Daniel Ricciardo
By Pete Gill and Craig Slater
Last Updated: 22/06/18 4:38pm
McLaren chief Zak Brown has laughed off reports the team's workforce have threatened mutiny and categorically ruled out a return to the team for Martin Whitmarsh.
McLaren have been dogged in recent weeks by stories of unrest at their Woking base.
In an unexpected outburst, Whitmarsh, McLaren's former team principal, told The Mail on Sunday the team required "a big change of approach", before a fresh report on the eve of this weekend's French GP claimed factory workers were considering striking after allegedly being rewarded with chocolate bars for their efforts.
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But a defiant Brown says he doesn't recognise the negative depiction of his team.
"I saw the article, l had a little chuckle. We have had an overwhelming response from the men and women in McLaren. So actually, it was a good article in that it got everyone pretty fired up," the McLaren chief Brown told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview.
"Just like it was one media outlet, l think it might have been one person in a company of 800-plus. It's a little disappointing to see him go to the media with such a trivial article but we are not worried about it."
And in a hard-hitting response to the comments attributed to Whitmarsh, who left the team five years ago after a disastrous 2013 campaign, Brown said: "He has a long history here and a lot of success during Ron Dennis' time.
"He is unemployed so l presume he is looking for a job somewhere. I've lost track, it seems he has become a journeyman - he was doing the America's Cup and then he was at the FIA for a short period of time. I'm sure he wants a job…but he's not going to get one here."
But could Ricciardo join McLaren in 2019?
More positively, McLaren have also been thrust into the limelight this week by reports they have made a big-money offer for Daniel Ricciardo as the team start to consider their driver options for 2019.
Red Bull's Ricciardo is thought to be top of the team's list to replace Fernando Alonso if the Spaniard, fresh from his victory at Le Mans, opts to leave F1 to pursue a full-time career in IndyCar to fulfill his ambition of completing motorsport's triple crown.
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"We are fans of Daniel," Brown told Sky Sports. "This is the time of year to look at your driver line-up but we aren't going to comment any further than that."
Alonso, meanwhile, says he will only make a decision on his future after August's summer break.
"Anything is possible," said Brown. "Clearly, he wants to win the triple crown. He's only 36 so he still has time. We would love to keep Fernando in the team, and in our F1 car, and should we go back to Indy he would make a helluva IndyCar driver."
No regrets over Honda divorce
On track in 2018, McLaren haven't been able to make the big leap forward that was hoped for when they switched from Honda power to Renault after three tough seasons in partnership with the Japanese firm.
Red Bull have taken the opposite course of action for 2019 and 2020 to join junior outfit Toro Rosso in taking on Honda power, prompting fresh questions of McLaren's decision to jettison Honda at the end of the 2017 season.
"They have done a good job this year, we knew they would catch up so we are not surprised," said Brown. "With the way the sport is going, where teams are collaborating more, l think it makes sense for them to have the same power units. I can understand why they have made the decision and it's exciting for the sport."
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