For only the second time in what has so far been a miserable season, neither Jenson Button nor team-mate Sergio Perez managed to qualify in the top 10.
The duo finished 12th and 11th fastest respectively ahead of Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, although both will move up one position courtesy of a 10-place penalty for Red Bull's Mark Webber.
With resources now being pumped into the 2014 car, if McLaren are to avoid another wretched campaign next season team principal Whitmarsh knows no stone can be left unturned.
After losing technical director Paddy Lowe to Mercedes earlier this year, McLaren appear in need of a shot in the arm on their technical side.
"We can never - and certainly this year - be satisfied with where we are," said Whitmarsh.
"So we've been recruiting on the technical side, strengthening quite a lot. There have been quite a few new starters this year.
"There are also some as yet unannounced that will be headline grabbing when they are, so there are things going on.
"We have to look at ourselves as a team, from the top management all the way through, as well as our technical team, to ensure we return to winning ways as quickly as possible."
In the past when McLaren have been slow out of the starting blocks, they have ordinarily been able to catch up, but not so this year.
Attempting to explain the reason why, Whitmarsh added: "Coming out of qualifying in our positions we can't be happy with that.
"In fairness, we were a bit closer than we were at the start of the season.
"But well-documented decisions put us behind with development, so we decided to put our resources into next year.
"It's tough on the drivers and engineers because Fridays have been devoted to conducting experiments, but that's where we are.
"We started six months behind the development curve and in this business when you do that then you are half to three quarters of a second behind, and that's why we have stayed where we are."