As Lewis Hamilton approaches the end of his six-year tenure at McLaren, team boss Martin Whitmarsh has conceded that the partnership should have yielded more championship success than it ultimately achieved.
Hamilton won the world championship in 2008 but the follow-up second title has been conspicuous by its absence. Added to that, the team hasn't won the constructor's championship since the turn of the millennium.
"All of us are at fault for that," Whitmarsh told the Daily Mail
newspaper on Friday in Abu Dhabi. "We've still got an extraordinary record and have had some fantastic races, but between us, with Lewis and the team, we could have done a better job together than we did."
Despite clearly assigning the responsibility equally between everyone involved, Whitmarsh's comments had been taken as being particularly critical of Hamilton - and on Saturday he was keen to tell reporters that no such slight was intended.
"I know it's been cast this way this morning in the newspapers but what I said is, yes, he should have won more championships and we could have done a better job as a team," he explained to Sky Sports News
in the Yas Marina paddock in Abu Dhabi. "We could have been more reliable, we could all do [more than we did.]
"Lewis is part of this team so we don't point fingers at anyone," insisted Whitmarsh. "I was very clear in what I said about taking that responsibility but clearly it's more entertaining in the newspapers to cast it as I was suggesting Lewis hasn't done a good enough job.
"He's done a great job," he said. "We haven't always done as good a job as we'd like to, but we both know rather ruefully we should have had one or two other world championships in his time."
Whitmarsh speculated that the team was possibly paying the price for playing it too safe in recent seasons.
"Arguably we have been too conservative and risk-averse in regulation interpretation," Whitmarsh told The Guardian
. "Given our brand and our position, I think we are more risk-averse.
"There are things that have happened which, had our engineers come to me and said we're going to do this, I'd have said forget it," he admitted. "I'd rather campaign for clearer, less ambiguous regulations."