Martin Whitmarsh - Looking over his shoulder after a dismal start to the season © Getty Images

Former McLaren driver David Coulthard has said he believes his old team will continue to struggle for some time yet and that ultimately the blame for early-season problems rests with team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

In his column in the Daily Telegraph Coulthard said Whitmarsh was under the cosh because "in the end the captain of the ship is responsible for its navigation".

After the Australian Grand Prix, Whitmarsh admitted that things were far from good. "We've really got to learn about this car, we've got to work these problems out and we've got to solve it," he said. "It isn't good enough at the moment and that is not a good feeling. I'm sure we'll get it right; we might not get it right as quickly as I would like but we will see."

"Martin is accountable in the same way that the technical director and the driver is," Coulthard said. "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. You do not win by accident any more than you lose by accident.

"I worked at McLaren under Ron Dennis rather than Martin, and Ron always used to say: 'I don't design the car'. Instead he would give the people the right power, the right salaries, the right environment. I would imagine that Ron has passed on the same message and that Martin is using those very words, trying to bring people together."

He added McLaren will be unable to make major improvements for the next few races because the main personnel will be so far from McLaren's Woking base and they "cannot react as quickly as they might do closer to home".