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Frentzen Joke Ron Dennis

Frentzen’s Missed McLaren Move Due to Joke on Ron Dennis

18/02/2024

Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s potential McLaren F1 shift in 1995 was thwarted by a jest at Ron Dennis, leading to lost communication.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen could have joined McLaren F1 in 1995, but he believes a joke about Ron Dennis prevented him from making this appealing transfer. The German describes how the iconic McLaren boss ceased communicating with him.

“Do you know why I never got my chance at McLaren?” Frentzen recounted his career on the Beyond the Grid podcast. “In 1994, in Adelaide, my manager approached me. All the Formula 1 teams were celebrating the end of the season, and I received a call saying Ron Dennis wanted to see me.”

“Ron Dennis came over and asked me, ‘Heinz, how is your English?’ I replied, ‘It could use some improvement,’ and then added for fun, ‘and how is your German?’ because we knew Mercedes was coming to McLaren. ‘You need to learn German too,’ I told Ron.”

Frentzen Joke Ron Dennis

“He had a stone-faced expression. I thought I was being funny, and my manager nudged me, as if to say, ‘what did you just say?’ I saw Ron Dennis’s face, and he never spoke to me again.”

“He was so upset that I made that joke. That’s why I never got my chance at McLaren, because Ron Dennis, for one reason or another, didn’t appreciate my sense of humor.”

A Great Opportunity Declined Out of Loyalty

Frentzen also shared that he could have joined Williams F1 earlier than he did, in 1994, as he was on the list to replace Ayrton Senna. However, he declined out of loyalty to Sauber.

“After Ayrton Senna’s death, Frank called me to ask if I would join Williams in 1994. It was just before the Monaco weekend started, on Thursday, when we had practice sessions. I met with Frank, and he asked if I wanted to join Williams for the rest of the ’94 season.”

“Imagine, it was only three races into the season. I was so happy at Sauber and wanted to stay there. I was oblivious to the surrounding politics and what was happening. But I was so content at Sauber that I told Frank, ‘I can’t leave the team.'”

“I struggled greatly to get into Sauber, and Sauber did everything to convince Mercedes that I was the right person, as Mercedes had doubts about this. Peter did everything to secure me a spot in Formula 1.”

Expressing gratitude to Frank, I highlighted my appreciation for Sauber’s opportunity in Formula 1. Leaving the team after merely three or four races was unthinkable for me. Breaking my contract to join another team simply wasn’t an option.

“It was very tough. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, ‘can I do this?’ For me, it was impossible to backstab someone – Peter had placed so much trust in me, it wasn’t possible. I told Frank it wasn’t possible, that I couldn’t do it.”

Frentzen Joke Ron Dennis. Frentzen Joke Ron Dennis

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