Sunday June 10th, 2001
Team chief Ron Dennis confirmed on Saturday that McLaren were confident of winning their legal battle to keep technical director Adrian Newey beyond the end of his contract.
Speaking in public about the affair for the first time, and showing some emotion over his personal friendship with Newey - who allegedly agreed to join rival Jaguar from August 2002 but then changed his mind - Dennis reiterated his belief that much of the information made public by Jaguar had been inaccurate.
"I am certain that he will carry on working with us with his heart and his head in the right way for the next few years. As this unfolds, you will see this for yourself and you will see it as it is," said Dennis.
He said it had been very important for the team to hang on to Newey because "we try to have the best of everything because that is what we need to win." Asked about his relationship with Newey, he admitted it had changed.
"Life changes on a daily basis," he said. "So, yes, it has changed. Not for the better or for the worse. It has just changed. I don't think there has been any appreciable difference in our business relationship or our friendship. But the circumstances are unusual and this (a news briefing) is not the forum to discuss them."
Dennis spoke at a team-organised media conference at the McLaren hospitality area on the eve of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. Alongside him, Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug said he was not at all concerned at the prospect of facing two months ahead dominated by headlines about Newey and court hearings.
"I don't see it that way," he said. "It is not a matter of a battle between two automotive companies but two teams, one team which is 100 percent owned by Ford and another 40 percent owned by Daimler-Chrysler. So, it is basically not a battle of two corporations like that. It is between the two teams and I must say that I think that we didn't get it wrong. We got it right.
"I would much rather sit here now talking about how we tried to keep one of our best guys. That is normal. It is better than talking about why Adrian left us. Adrian has called me and he said, 'I am happy to stay and you guys convinced me.' So, we did a good job in the end."