Hamilton spent the majority of his career with McLaren but moved across to Mercedes at the start of 2013.
Dennis says that he did not try and stop Hamilton from leaving the team.
“I recently read a very nice quote from Lewis in which he said that, unlike other drivers who had joined McLaren once they’d already raced in F1, his apprenticeship with the team in his youth meant that he was a seed that had grown within McLaren, which I thought was an extremely eloquent way of putting it,” Dennis said on the 50th anniversary of McLaren’s foundation.
“Lewis knows that he’s part of the McLaren family and that, like that seed, he’s grown deep roots within our organisation.”
“Last year I didn’t seriously seek to prevent his efforts to explore new pastures with the Mercedes AMG F1 team – perhaps it was a necessary part of his maturation – but I’ll always remember his time with us very fondly, just as I’m very proud of having been McLaren’s CEO and team principal when he became world champion with us in 2008.”
Dennis added that no-one would have predicted the impact Hamilton eventually made on the sport in 2007.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted the impact he’d make on F1 when he first arrived.”
“Certainly, although we’d signed him on the basis that he’d be quick, we’d anticipated that his first season would be an apprenticeship, and that he’d be learning on the job, and that there would inevitably therefore be mistakes and errors.”
“The fact that he adapted so quickly was not only a mark of his hunger and ability, but also a tribute to the quality of the education and support that McLaren had spent so many years providing for him. While it wouldn’t be unfair to call Lewis ‘an overnight sensation’ in F1 – and many understandably did – we at McLaren know that it took many years of unseen hard work to make him one.”