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Hamilton surprised by Dennis exit

WORLD champion Lewis Hamilton was surprised that his mentor Ron Dennis had decided to step away from Formula One.

With the team in turmoil after being found guilty of misleading the stewards at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Dennis announced on Thursday that he would no longer play any part in the Formula One operation.

"I wasn't disappointed, I was surprised. I hadn't heard about it, I was just as surprised as the rest of the team," he said yesterday.

Dennis has mentored Hamilton since the driver was 13 years old, transforming him from a confident young karter into the youngest Formula One world champion. Hamilton, however, has been disgruntled since the incident in Melbourne and his relationship with Dennis was rumored to be on the rocks.

"Ron has been a huge force in supporting my life and he's still playing a key role in my life, whether or not he's in the team or not," Hamilton said. "You guys have been writing about it..., as soon as he gets to a certain stage, he'll step aside. I guess he's decided that time is now."

Hamilton rejected the idea, however, that Dennis's departure might be a new beginning for the team. "I don't think we've made any new start or anything, we're still working on the car trying to improve it," he said.


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