David Coulthard says that Martin Whitmarsh is already under pressure after McLaren's disappointing run in the season opening Australian Grand Prix.
The team endured a trying start to the 2013 season with Jenson Button only ninth and Sergio Perez eleventh at Albert Park in the first race for the new MP4-28, which was off the pace of the front runners throughout the weekend.
It means pressure is already on the Woking-based team in the title race, with former McLaren man Coulthard admitting that the buck would ultimately stop with Whitmarsh if things didn't improve.
“McLaren have fallen some way short of their desired target: namely, to deliver what was achieved by Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus in Melbourne on Sunday,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph
. “They would have settled for a spot on the podium, but they did not look like they were anywhere close to that either, given this latest performance.
“They will make whatever improvements they can between now and the Malaysian Grand Prix, and the mere fact that Sepang is such a different circuit might just start to unleash some potential in the car that we could not see around the temporary track in Melbourne.
“Over the next three races in Malaysia, China and Bahrain, they need to start understanding what the problem is. If it is a fundamental issue, then they need to make sure, come the Spanish Grand Prix in May, that they have the requisite parts to maximise the potential. The general rule is that by the fifth race, when the teams come to Europe, you start to see the true pecking order emerging. For a quarter of the season McLaren could find themselves scrapping for the minor points, simply due to the distances involved, and because teams cannot react as quickly as they might do closer to home.
“You cannot escape the fact that there is pressure upon Martin Whitmarsh as team principal, for in the end, the captain of the ship is responsible for its navigation. Ultimately, Martin is accountable in the same way that the technical director and the driver is. But F1 is not a sport where people shy away from responsibility. It is one of the best businesses for accountability that I have ever come across. Any evidence of a lack of commitment, lack of focus, or an inability to deliver consistently, is immediately addressed. Failure is not an option.”