Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have been undermined on numerous occasions this campaign either by team gaffes, or most recently, and somewhat unusually, a spate of technical woes.
It has meant that in the last seven races, Hamilton and Button have both crossed the line in the same grand prix on just two occasions.
As a result, their hopes of the world title have faded to nothing more than mathematical miracles, while McLaren have slipped to third in the constructors' championship, 83 points adrift of Red Bull.
The Milton Keynes-based marque maintained their current dominance by locking out the front row for the third successive race for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix. It is the first time in their history they have done so for three races in a row.
With Sebastian Vettel leading away the field for the 35th time in his F1 career, followed by team-mate Mark Webber, from the second row the McLaren pair appear to have their work cut out, with Hamilton lining up third ahead of Button.
In a frank assessment, Whitmarsh put his hand on his heart and admitted his team "have not done a good enough job" for his drivers.
"There is no particular issue, which is deeply frustrating," said Whitmarsh.
"It's just we've under-performed in the last couple of races for a variety of reasons, and to some extent it's been one of those frustrating years.
"We've four races left, and although Red Bull are quick, we've two great race drivers and we will do our job to give them the best equipment.
"It's obviously frustrating when things don't go right, but it's not one particular thing, which is often the case.
"When you work back there is always a root cause. It normally ends up with a human being who makes a decision during design, definition, procurement, assembly, servicing, maintenance or operation.
"It's a team effort, a lot of people are trying very hard. We have to accept these things, that we're all fallible and can make mistakes.
"It is frustrating when it happens, certainly when it happens in front of hundreds of millions of people."
Hamilton and Button are convinced Red Bull and Vettel will not have it all their own way in Sunday's race at the Buddh International Circuit.
After dominating practice, Vettel duly went on to claim pole, but in the race the two Britons are hopeful of a change.
"I definitely think third position gives us a fighting chance to win tomorrow [Sunday]," said Hamilton.
"At the start I feel I have a lot less to lose than Sebastian, so I'll certainly be pushing a bit.
"Seb has more to worry about than I do, and if I can get up with the two Red Bulls, I'd love to take the win.
"We have the race pace to be able to stay with them, so as I say, a win is definitely possible."
Even from fourth on the grid Button is also confident of pushing the Red Bulls all the way to the line.
"As a team we should be reasonably happy with what we achieved," said Button.
"We're not far from the Red Bulls and we're ahead of the Ferraris, so as a result I'm very excited about the race.
"Our starts tend to be pretty good, so let's see what we can do from the second row.
"I'm sure there will still be some good fighting, there are two DRS zones, with the second one a little longer, so hopefully we can take advantage of that."
With Vettel six points clear of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the 24-year-old is four places ahead of the Spaniard who starts fifth.
Even Vettel, though, has expressed his concern at the long-run pace of both McLaren and Ferrari, with a rare one-stop strategy predicted for many.
Vettel said: "I'm very happy to be on pole. It's obviously the best possible position to start, but there's a hard race coming up.
"We had a bit of a surprise on Friday in terms of long runs. Everyone was quite competitive and tyres seemed to last reasonably well, so we'll see what that means for strategy."
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, still in with an outside shot of the title, starts seventh, with Paul di Resta a lowly 16th in his Force India, but complaining of a major issue with his car the team are currently investigating.