Mark Webber believes quality of Formula 1 grid is dropping

Mark Webber believes the quality of the Formula 1 grid has dropped since he made his debut in 2002 because of the prevalence of pay drivers

Mark Webber believes quality of Formula 1 grid is dropping

The Australian believes financial concerns are forcing teams to focus on budget rather than talent, and that some of the most worthy drivers are being overlooked.

In what he labelled a 'sad state', Webber believes that has diluted the quality of the current grid to the extent it is actually weaker than it was 13 years ago when he made a home soil debut with Minardi.

"When I was on the grid at the back with Minardi you had Irvine, Salo - all those guys had been on podiums," Webber said.

"The grid was just packed full of guys who had won in F3000, won a lot of impressive races.

"[Now] there are a lot of talented guys out there, but a lot are slipping through the net unfortunately. That's a sad state.

"[Robin] Frijns for example is a phenomenal young talent, [but] has got no cash."

Webber said he remains focused on ensuring protege Mitch Evans reaches F1, but admitted he is wary of the 19-year-old being promoted too early.

Evans won last year's GP3 championship and has taken four podiums for Arden in his maiden GP2 campaign in 2013.

Asked about the example of Sergey Sirotkin, who is set to race for Sauber next year, Webber said entering the sport so young could present a safety concern.

"Maybe it's a safety worry, we'll see," Webber said of drivers being promoted so early.

"You can drive the car, but for sure it's not the optimal point to enter I don't think.

"My job is to get Mitch there to show what he can do, [but] there's not much testing going on at the moment [so] you have to see what they can do in the period they have.

"Is he [Sirotkin] a Kimi or Sebastian? We'll find out."

Australian GP starting grids - comparing Webber's debut with his final home grand prix 2002 2013 1. Rubens Barrichello 1. Sebastian Vettel 2. Michael Schumacher 2. Mark Webber 3. Ralf Schumacher 3. Lewis Hamilton 4. David Coulthard 4. Felipe Massa 5. Kimi Raikkonen 5. Fernando Alonso 6. Juan Pablo Montoya 6. Nico Rosberg 7. Jarno Trulli 7. Kimi Raikkonen 8. Giancarlo Fisichella 8. Romain Grosjean 9. Felipe Massa 9. Paul di Resta 10. Nick Heidfeld 10. Jenson Button 11. Jenson Button 11. Nico Hulkenberg 12. Olivier Panis 12. Adrian Sutil 13. Jacques Villeneuve 13. Jean-Eric Vergne 14. Mika Salo 14. Daniel Ricciardo 15. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 15. Sergio Perez 16. Allan McNish 16. Valtteri Bottas 17. Enrique Bernoldi 17. Pastor Maldonado 18. Mark Webber 18. Esteban Gutierrez 19. Eddie Irvine 19. Jules Bianchi 20. Pedro de la Rosa 20. Max Chilton 21. Alex Yoong 21. Giedo van der Garde 22. Takuma Sato 22. Charles Pic 
shares
comments
Romain Grosjean's attitude impressing Lotus F1 team

Previous article

Romain Grosjean's attitude impressing Lotus F1 team

Next article

Adrian Sutil admits F1 future uncertain

Adrian Sutil admits F1 future uncertain
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Andrew van de Burgt
The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Plus

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Formula 1
May 17, 2021
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021