A year ago Ferrari started the season with one of the worst cars they had ever designed and built in recent memory.
It was only through the skills of Fernando Alonso, and with a slice of luck along the way, they managed to stay in touch over the early races before ultimately mounting a championship challenge.
Twelve months on and McLaren find themselves in the same boat, but seemingly in far deeper water as their car is such a radical design they find themselves a long way off the pace of their rivals.
After three races, McLaren are 64 points behind current leaders and reigning champions Red Bull, with Whitmarsh aware his team cannot afford to lag behind for too much longer.
Asked whether McLaren were still in the hunt for the constructors' title, Whitmarsh remains positive, citing Ferrari as a role model.
"After three races, or even after four races, you don't give up in these championships," said Whitmarsh ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.
"Ferrari did an excellent job last year of showing all of us how you can turn it round and be there right at the end, capable of winning both championships.
"There are always big hills to climb and mountains of challenge, but that's why we come motor racing.
"At the moment we're concentrating on understanding and improving the car, and as soon as we make progress we'll be trying to win races and as soon as we win races we'll be thinking about championships.
"But at the moment we're focused on the here and now, and that's the best we can do this weekend at what is a tough circuit for us.
"It is a rear-limited circuit, one where traction is important, and that's been a deficiency in our car so far.
"We came here knowing it was going to be a tough weekend, but we'll fight as hard as we can to get what is possible."
With drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez 11th and 13th at the end of yesterday's two practice sessions, over a second behind pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, McLaren's struggles were evident.
Button, however, at least tried to put a positive spin on events as he said: "The sessions were very productive for us.
"We completed some useful investigative work before focusing on the longer runs, but it's very difficult to know exactly what to do with set up.
"We've tried a few things, and we'll get there. I've already a good feeling that we've found a set-up and a direction for today [Saturday] that will be more competitive.
"There's a lot we can take away from practice that will help us for qualifying."
In close attendance to Raikkonen were Red Bull duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, along with Alonso, whilst Paul Di Resta was fifth quickest in both sessions.
Like McLaren, Mercedes also appear to have work to do as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were only eighth and 10th fastest, with Marussia's Max Chilton 20th, three seconds back.
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