Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that McLaren was 'too ambitious' last year with the design of its MP4-28 and is now paying the price with its struggles early on in the 2013 campaign.
The Woking-based team went for a radical design of the new car despite the pace of the MP4-27 used last year by Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, but has struggled to run at the front so far – with the team going into Monaco this weekend down in sixth in the standings.
Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, Whitmarsh admitted that the team should have simply evolved the car it had but insisted that McLaren was doing all it could to return to form.
“Hero-to-zero happens very quickly in this business,” he said. “Not so long ago we had the fastest car on the grid - and now we don't. It's tough - and believe me we are annoyed with ourselves - but we are working hard to try to improve.
“Frankly the car is not fast enough. With the benefit of hindsight we were too ambitious last year. We had a competitive car and made decisions to make very big changes in the expectation of aggressively making a big step forward - and that backfired. In hindsight we should have evolved what was already a competitive car. We didn't do that and are paying the cost of it - but we are learning a lot from all this pain.
“If I try to look for positives, we've learned a lot about ourselves and it makes us more resilient. Of course, I'd like to be competitive now. I love to go to races with a realistic prospect of winning. If you are in a period like this it is not the most satisfying thing to go motor racing.”
Whitmarsh added that he felt the team was heading in the right direction but said only time would tell how quickly it would take for McLaren to return to the front.
“Nearly everything we had in Barcelona is still on the car so that indicates that it works,” he said. “We have a new front wing here and some other bits and pieces, and we are working hard to bring more new parts to Montreal. I would love to have a magic way to resurrect quicker, but unfortunately it is only hard work that will help, and I am sure that we will become more competitive as the season moves on.
“What I can say is that we will have a quicker car in Silverstone than we have today. How much we gain I can't predict, as it is also depends on what our competitors do.”