Crash.Net F1 News
Whitmarsh lauds 'inspirational' Button and Perez
30 July 2013
There's no doubt that this season has been an uncomfortable and bruising experience for McLaren, with a seriously underperforming car leaving them struggling to get in the points - a far cry for a team that is used to challenging for world championships every year.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh certainly didn't pull any punches when talking about how poor the team's performance had been so far this season, heading into the traditional mid-season summer break in August in a lowly sixth place in the constructors championship, still two points behind Force India.
"Clearly McLaren hasn't done a good enough job and I don't think we've hidden from that, and that's been disappointing," agreed Whitmarsh.
He said that he felt worst for the team's drivers, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, who were in the public firing line for the team's behind-the-scenes problems.
"I think you've got to say a lot about these two guys," he said. "They're winners, they're used to being in a winning situation, they're the ones that get the glare of publicity, the pressure, and not only have they done a good job in the car but they've been fantastic in the team, with the team, and as ambassadors for the team.
"It's deeply frustrating on occasions I'm sure for them and they've done a fantastic job, and I think everyone knows that within the organisation," he said. "Everyone's working hard and it's been inspirational to see two young men - I think I can still call Jenson one of those! - who really are showing they're great human beings as well as great racing drivers. They want to win just as much as we all do, everyone in the team wants to."
And Whitmarsh said he hopes that the crucible of this this year's disappointment would prove to have a silver lining for the team. "We're stronger as a team and I think we're working well and we're optimistic not only for the rest of the year but optimistic for the future," he said.
Looking to the future, many were surprised when McLaren opted to field Kevin Magnussen at the recent three-day Young Driver Test at Silverstone, and Whitmarsh explained how that came about so that pundits didn't read too much into it with regard to plans the team might have about its Grand Prix line-up.
"We'd offered Kevin to Force India [for the Young Driver Test], and in fact Force India had agreed to run him but changed their plans at the last minute," he said. "Given that he thought he was running for Force India we felt that we should give him that day."
Speculating that it would be good to introduce Magnussen into F1 in a junior team in 2014, Whitmarsh explained why he wasn't keen on thrusting young inexperienced drivers straight into the spotlight in a high-profile team such as McLaren.
"There's a tremendous amount of expectation and pressure about being a McLaren driver," he said. "I know we've had exceptions but generally we don't have rookies in the car and we develop drivers for the long term.
"F1 hasn't been good at developing drivers," he pointed out. "At the moment we have some really interesting programs but they are a few years probably away from having an impact on this particular team."