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APRIL 29, 1996

Mr Dennis goes to Stuttgart

MCLAREN boss Ron Dennis, Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug and Ilmor engine designer Mario Illien left the Nurburgring on Friday afternoon to fly down to Stuttgart for a meeting with Mercedes-Benz top management to discuss the current state of the McLaren-Mercedes relationship. We understand that they met with the car company's top men, HelmutÊWerner and Jurgen Huppert. According to those involved, the meeting was a calm affair without any dramas, despite the fact that the McLaren-Mercedes combination has been less than successful this year.

Ron Dennis has already admitted that there are plans for the team to debut a completely revised version of the chassis at the Monaco GP and Haug says that Mercedes has every intention of fulfilling its five-year commitment to McLaren. There are, however, believed to be strains on both sides of the relationship as Mercedes clearly has a very competitive engine which is not getting the results it deserves because the McLaren chassis has been less than competitive. There are also sections of the Daimler-Benz company - the parent body of Mercedes-Benz - which believes that the F1 program should be stopped because the group needs to save its money following recent heavy losses in areas such as aerospace and electronics.

Dennis is also not totally happy with the relationship with Mercedes, as his original plan when he did the Mercedes deal was for McLaren to be involved with Mercedes in a variety of projects.

Although the European GP weekend turned out to be something of a success for McLaren, there were nonetheless discordant notes in the paddock, notably from Peugeot president Jacques Calvet who was asked if his company might consider supplying its 1994 partner McLaren again in the future. "I have a memory like an elephant," Calvet said, "and I do not respect people who do not keep their word." This reaction was rather different from the announcements made when Peugeot and McLaren split at the end of 1994, when McLaren joined forces with Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot began its relationship with Jordan.