Davide 'Don' Rennis (Born 29 Feburary 1952 in Palermo, Italy) is a former F2RWRS Commissioner and the former team principal of both the McLaren and Williams team. Rennis has been known to be incredibly outspoken in the media but has nonetheless been a highly respected figure in the F1 and F1RWRS paddock for the best part of 20 years, even if he never was the most well-liked.
Rennis graduated from the University of Messina with an Engineering degree in 1977 and very quickly found work in the Brabham team working as a mechanic. However, it soon became apparent that his real talents were in the management side of the business and in 1979, Rennis became the team's Commercial Manager. By midway through the next decade, he had risen to the ranks of basically running the team as owner Bernie Ecclestone was losing interest in running the outfit with his increasing political grip on Formula One itself. The team itself was in decline with the radical cars from designer Gordon Murray proving to be underwhelming in 1986 and 1987. With the team missing the deadline for the 1988 season, Rennis initially offered to take over the team altogether from Ecclestone but was pipped by Alfa Romeo at the last minute. After this, Rennis left the Brabham team and joined the Lotus team for the 1988 season as their Commercial Manager. Rennis held that role through the team's waning years until their eventual demise in 1994.
McLaren Team Principal
Rennis' skills in management during this time didn't go unnoticed and in 1995, he joined the McLaren team as their new team principal after previous principal Ron Dennis decided to try his hand at starting an offshoot of the McLaren team which deals with technical partnerships with clients around the world. The team was going through a period of upheaval and renewal as the team's drivers Tom Douglas and Douglas Mann left the team for Ferrari and Williams respectively. In addition to that, Peugeot had left the team after McLaren finished a disappointing 5th in the constructors championship, behind the likes of Benetton and Jordan. In the French manufacturer's place, Rennis managed to snare a works Mercedes engine deal from under Sauber's nose as well as sign two highly-talented drivers in the form of Spaniard Rory McAllister and Brit James Davies. While the season was a relative disaster for the team, the seeds for rebuilding to their former glory were there with both drivers signed on long-term contracts for 1996 and beyond. The non-championship Duel in the Desert proved to be the team's best result by far with Davies coming through from 25th on the grid and an early pitstop for a new front wing to take home one of the most memorable wins in recent history while Rory McAllister was leading late in the race before falling to third by race end when asked to conserve fuel by the team.
Williams Team Principal
After Ron Dennis retook control of his team at the end of 2002, Rennis found himself with offers on the table from both Toyota and Sir Frank Williams to take over their respective teams as team principal for 2003 and beyond. After much deliberation, Rennis eventually became Williams team principal for 2003. The first thing he did as part of the team was carry out Sir Frank's wishes of firing both their incumbent drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya as both had developed increasingly frosty relations with each other and the team. In their place, Rennis hired Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella on multi-year contracts to spearhead Williams as they tried to win their first championships since 1997. While Button was affected by bad luck throughout the early part of the season, Fisichella was always there in the fight for podiums and victory on any given weekend which accumulated to his first Grand Prix win at the Canadian Grand Prix.
However, Williams' year took a turn for the worse when Fisichella suffered an enormous accident at the French Grand Prix, the consequences of which effectively ended the Italian's season. In his place, Rennis signed on Australian rookie Ryan Briscoe alongside Button for the foreseeable future. At the same time, Button had started finding his stride and was starting to get solid results which kept the team's spirits high during the difficult period.