Whitmarsh was quoted as telling the Mail on Sunday that McLaren “needs a big change of approach” and that some leading figures “have to go” amid a podium drought that now spans four years despite a winter change of engine supplier.
The report claimed that some staff members were unhappy with the situation at Woking and were planning to present their views to Whitmarsh, who served as team principal between 2009 and 2014.
McLaren have now responded to the reported comments.
“Martin worked for McLaren for many years, but has been outside the business for some time and is not part of our future,” a McLaren spokesman said in a statement to Sky Sports’ F1 Report, which airs at 8.30pm on Wednesday.
“What he said was ill-judged and ill-informed in our view but he is entitled to his opinion.
“There are high expectations in the team and we won’t compromise those high expectations.
“Everyone at McLaren is working tremendously hard and is focused on the future, not the past.”
Since leaving McLaren in 2014 after 24 years when then-chairman Ron Dennis seized back control of the racing team, Whitmarsh headed up Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup operation and taken on various advisory roles.
The Englishman returned to the F1 paddock at last month’s Spanish GP and was seen in the McLaren garage during a practice session, but McLaren chief executive Zak Brown told Sky F1 that Whitmarsh’s appearance was in no way connected to a potential Woking return.
McLaren currently fifth in this year’s Constructors’ Championship but are yet to break their long podium drought since dropping Honda for Renault power.
The team failed to score points in either of the last two races and racing director Eric Boullier said ahead of this weekend’s French GP: “Our focus must first and foremost be on reliability after our recent spate of retirements. We’ve worked hard to understand our performance issues in Canada and hope that in France we can put in a more representative showing on track.”
Will it be Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull on top as F1 returns to Paul Ricard for the first leg of an unprecedented triple header? Watch the French GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.