David Coulthard believes that while under-pressure McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is ultimately responsible for the team's performances, their problems run much deeper than just one man.
Whitmarsh is in the firing line after McLaren made a below-par start to the season in Australia with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez coming home in ninth and eleventh respectively.
So poor was McLaren's performance that Jenson Button declared that the MP4-28 was not capable of winning races and that major updates would be needed to put the car on the front of the grid.
Whitmarsh admitted that the car lacked the required pace and that the team did not quite understand its performance, adding that it would take longer than people would like for the problem to be resolved.
Coulthard believes that the Woking outfit have at most three more races to figure out exactly where they are going wrong.
"Over the next three races in Malaysia, China and Bahrain, they need to start understanding what the problem is," Coulthard wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph.
"If it is a fundamental issue, then they need to make sure, come the Spanish Grand Prix in May, that they have the requisite parts to maximise the potential. The general rule is that by the fifth race, when the teams come to Europe, you start to see the true pecking order emerging.
"For a quarter of the season McLaren could find themselves scrapping for the minor points, simply due to the distances involved, and because teams cannot react as quickly as they might do closer to home."
The Scot added that the heat was rightly on Whitmarsh as the buck stops with him, but that there are others who need to get their affairs in order too.
"You cannot escape the fact that there is pressure upon Martin Whitmarsh as team principal, for in the end, the captain of the ship is responsible for its navigation," wrote the former McLaren driver.
"Ultimately, Martin is accountable in the same way that the technical director and the driver is. 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.
"What the shareholders or what the McLaren board will do at any given point is to ask: "What was the reason for that success or failure?" 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.
"I am not aware of any major head-hunting recently, but I am aware of certain people leaving, not least Lewis Hamilton and Paddy Lowe on the technical side. There will be question marks, but I still do not feel you can shine the spotlight on one individual."