F1: Martin Whitmarsh hails 'exemplary' Jenson Button and Sergio Perez in face of dreadful start for McLaren

The British based team struggled in the opening Grand Prix of the season

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has vowed to deliver the goods for Jenson Button and Sergio Perez after hailing them “exemplary” in the face of such a poor start to the new Formula One season.

Whitmarsh has admitted it was the inspirational attitude of Button and Perez over the course of the Australian Grand Prix weekend that raised the spirits of not just himself, but everyone in the team.

McLaren's latest car is woefully off the pace - three seconds to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel in qualifying - whilst Button finished ninth and 81 seconds down on race winner Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, with Perez 11th.

The decision to radically redevelop a car that won in the United States and Brazil at the end of last year rather than opt for a natural evolution into this season has proven costly.

Although frank in his assessment of his team's failings in Melbourne, it clearly pained Whitmarsh to admit the gravity of the problems.

To that end, he was grateful to old-hand Button and young Mexican Perez for remaining so upbeat.

"On a weekend like we had you look for positives, and one of them was how great the drivers were," said Whitmarsh.

"Their attitude, their approach over a difficult weekend was very, very good.

"Jenson we know and love, so we expect that from him. He is that sort of professional.

"For a young driver like Checo to arrive in this situation, and to cope with it so well and perform in such difficult circumstances and in such a positive way, is very encouraging.

"They're working with the team, they are team players, and we are all in this together."

Instead of McLaren's management doing the tub-thumping, it was left to the drivers, which in turn has left Whitmarsh promising to repay them for their energy.

"Both the guys were an inspiration with how they conducted themselves and helped pull the team together," added Whitmarsh.

"They were exemplary, and I can tell you, even myself you get raised by them, you want to fight for them, they deserve it.

"It makes you even more determined to deliver for them because they did a great job over the weekend in circumstances that were not good for them."

In turn, Button has defended Whitmarsh, whose head is potentially on the chopping block after four barren years in charge without a title, and after overseeing this latest horrendous wrong turn.

The 33-year-old, speaking to Press Association Sport, said: "He is the boss. Everyone looks up to Martin.

"It's difficult to always be strong, but he is doing a bloody good job.

"It is everybody's job to stay positive. We have to say what we think about the car, that is how it is. We cannot say everything is hunky-dory because it is not.

"We know we have work to do, but we are all very strong within this team, and we do work very closely together as a family. There is no finger-pointing.

"We want to improve, but it is going to be a long journey for us I think."

PA

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