The buck will stop at the desk of Martin Whitmarsh if McLaren cannot quickly emerge from its early 2013 season slump, according to former team driver David Coulthard.
Having lost team stars Lewis Hamilton and Paddy Lowe ahead of the new season, the Woking based team struggled markedly in Australia with the radical new MP4-28.
Whitmarsh, team principal, might ultimately shoulder the blame, Coulthard – who drove for McLaren from 1996 until 2004 – wrote in a column for the Telegraph.
“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,” said the 41-year-old, who drove for McLaren between 1996 and 2004.
“Formula 1 is not a sport where people shy away from responsibility. Any evidence of a lack of commitment, lack of focus, or an inability to deliver consistently, is immediately addressed. Failure is not an option,” Coulthard added.
There has been talk of McLaren scrapping the MP4-28 in favour of reverting to the winning 2012 car, but that cannot be done in the very short term.
“Am I excited for the next race (in Malaysia)? We certainly will not be quick,” Jenson Button is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace.
On the possibility of the 2012 car returning to action later on, Whitmarsh is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint: “Purely from a technical points of view, it would be possible.”
As the pressure ramps up, Button backed his boss.
“Everyone looks up to Martin,” he is quoted by the Daily Mail. “It’s difficult to always be strong, but he is doing a bloody good job. There is no finger-pointing. We want to improve, but it is going to be a long journey for us I think.”
The episode has been exacerbated by McLaren Automotive admitting that a faulty ECU (mandatory used by all F1 teams) compromised Mark Webber’s Red Bull RB9 before the start of the recent Australian GP.
McLaren have apologised for the failure of the ECU which they manufacture. (GMM)