Martin Whitmarsh has played down suggestions that he is coming under pressure to quit as McLaren team principal following the squad's slow start to 2013.

Despite believing that its all-new MP4-28 would be a threat to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari, McLaren has struggled to give Jenson Button and Sergio Perez a shot at the podium and continued to struggle for pace at the Spanish Grand Prix, despite a major development package being introduced at the opening European round.

The F1 rumour mill was alive recently with speculation that former team boss Ron Dennis was poised to return and take charge but, despite that and new suggestions that the board had asked him to consider his own position, Whitmarsh insisted that he was not about to leave his post.

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"I don't believe it's been considered at board level at the moment, as far as I know," he told reporters after watching Button fail to make it into the final phase of qualifying in Barcelona, "I believe in the team, I believe we are going to power through this. So no, I am not considering anything other than getting this team back to where it belongs."

Having lost Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes, McLaren may have been expected to take a small step backwards from the seven race wins it claimed in 2012 but, after four rounds, the team sits a distant sixth in the constructors' standings, behind Force India and already 86 points off leader Red Bull, while Button and Perez lie tenth and eleventh in the drivers' table.

The team - which has already admitted that a wrongly fitted suspension part caused initial optimism at Jerez - suspects that there had been some discrepancy in the correlation between design data and actual performance of the MP4-28 in the early part of 2013.

"The simulation before the start of the season was overoptimistic and we had poor correlation," Whitmarsh explained, "But I think, when you look back at it and you're really honest with yourself, there was some will to believe data and interpret data in a more positive way than it really was.

"I think the simulation coming here was modest in expectation. We hoped we would find more performance from the simulation and we've got to take some positives out of the weekend. I think you can always take positives out of every weekend - there was a better correlation - but clearly we haven't made a step forward that we need and want to make.

"It's not satisfactory enough, but I think there's some interesting learning this weekend and that's what you want to do - you want to learn from every step that you try to take. Some of them exceed expectation and some of them fall short of expectation, but I think we're starting to learn."

Despite the struggles, Whitmarsh insists that McLaren can turn things around sooner rather than later.

"I've been around in the sport for a long time, [and] I think I've sat here in difficult, dark moments and sat here in good moments as well," he reflected, "I believe we can make decent steps forward during the rest of this year and that's what we're trying to do. I am sure we are going to win some more races and we're going to work hard to do that this year."