“I think we are not best friends, but I think there is respect from each other," said Alonso at the launch of Renault's new R29 challenger. We didn't have a perfect end to our relationship but we know how much he has done for Formula One. When I was young I remember McLaren and I had great respect for him,” said Alonso yesterday, at the unveiling of the Renault R29 at Portimao.
The Spaniard switched teams after his 2nd world title in 2006 and signed a deal with McLaren for the next 3 seasons. However, due to Dennis favoring protege Lewis Hamilton in the 2007 title fight, Alonso chose to leave the Woking-based team at the end of his first year and returned to Renault. However, he admitted that running an F1 team is not an easy thing to do and praised Dennis for starting from scratch and building a winning team in Formula 1.
“There are not many people like Ron in Formula One anymore. Ron did it like in the old days: one guy developing and growing up with the team, making a Formula One team successful and winning championships,” added the Spaniard.
Last year, Ron Dennis helped McLaren Mercedes clinch their first F1 drivers' title since Mika Hakkinen in 1999. Lewis Hamilton was crowned F1 champion at the end of 2008, after which Dennis considered his job was done at McLaren. He insisted, however, that he will not leave the sport for good, but will take on another role within the McLaren organization in the years to come. McLaren's CEO Martin Whitmarsh will take over the team principal responsibilities as of March 1st.