NOVEMBER 17, 2016
Vandoorne future safe despite Dennis exit
A Belgian F1 expert has played down rumours Ron Dennis' departure from McLaren will endanger Stoffel Vandoorne's future.
Team supremo Dennis has been ousted after a bitter shareholders' dispute, just one race before Vandoorne is set to replace Jenson Button as Fernando Alonso's 2017 teammate.
Belgian Vandoorne is a protege of Dennis'.
But Het Nieuwsblad journalist and commentator Gert Vermersch told Belgium's Sporza: "This will not affect Vandoorne.
"Stoffel came to McLaren because of other people as well," he insisted.
Another driver brought to McLaren and championed by Dennis is Mika Hakkinen, who admitted his former boss will be shocked and disappointed with the latest events.
Some believe it is Dennis' personality that finally put his fellow shareholders off-side, but Hakkinen told Gulf News that the 69-year-old is not overbearing.
"No, not at all," the Finn insisted.
"I had a fantastic time. Without him, I wouldn't have been twice a world champion.
"He was a very tough leader for the drivers. He worked me very hard and my teammates. Ron was able to organise this very well. I believe he's a great leader.
"But generations change and people change and think a little bit differently these days," Hakkinen said.
It is believed F1 sponsorship guru Zak Brown is favourite to succeed Dennis, but Martin Whitmarsh, Jost Capito and Eric Boullier are also being linked with the role.
"I know Zak personally and he's a fantastic guy," said Hakkinen, who won all 20 of his grands prix with McLaren. "He's a gentleman who definitely can motivate you for success."