Mark Webber is really letting loose now that he's announced he's retiring at the end of this Formula One season. The Australian offered a few scathing remarks about his soon-to-be-former teammate on the latest episode of Top Gear (set to air on Monday, August 12 in the US), and now the outspoken driver is arguing that the quality of the grid has dropped significantly since his first race in 2002.

The concern rests with the advent of pay drivers – racers who bring large sponsorship deals to the table – like Pastor Maldonado, Vitaly Petrov, Sergio Perez and Charles Pic. Webber, who isn't the only one to have voiced similar concerns and thinks this trend is overvaluing cash and undervaluing talent. Citing the grid for his first race, Webber told Autosport, "When I was on the grid at the back with Minardi you had Irvine, Salo - all those guys had been on podiums. The grid was just packed full of guys who had won in F3000, won a lot of impressive races."

Webber specifically mentioned Robin Frijns, a Dutch driver that won Formula Renault in his debut season, who Webber called "a phenomenal young talent, [but] has got no cash." The Aussie, who will be joining Porsche's Le Mans efforts at the end of this Formula One season, also expressed concern for Sergey Sirotkin, a 17-year-old Russian pay driver that will work as a development driver for Sauber before taking a possible race seat in 2014. He'd be turning 19 midway through next season. "You can drive the car, but for sure it's not the optimal point to enter, I don't think."

Webber isn't he first to voice concerns about cash versus talent, and he surely won't be the last. But with some inside F1 worried about spiraling costs, including the cost of the switch to the new turbocharged engines, this surely isn't the last we'll see of pay drivers. We only hope a balance can be reached between the talent that Formula One demands and the economics that allow it to be accessible to all teams.


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  • 27 Comments
      The Law
      • 1 Year Ago
      For starters some one needs to give Bernie the boot.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Infinity
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah ok. When Kimi takes your seat next year, I am quite certain 2014 will be one of the most exciting years in a while. Fastest four drivers in the 3 of the fastest cars. Kimi, Alonso, Hamilton and of course Vettel. All world champions. Hey Mark, what do you have to show for all your years in F1? There is more hype about Kimi taking your seat than you leaving F1.
      realrambo
      • 1 Year Ago
      kind a funny after racking millions dollars contract , unable to keep the pace , he come around and say the quality is slipping , Mark will see what you are to do in le mans series , should you fail you wont be able to blame your teammate again .
      KaiserWilhelm
      • 1 Year Ago
      F1 is a corrupt pay-to-play sham? WHO KNEW?!
      Aussie Aspie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seven facts about Mark Webber: * Mark is a wanker! * Mark has always been a wanker! * Mark always will be a wanker! * While talented, Mark never had what it takes to win a Championship! * Mark doesn't have what it takes to win a Championship! * Mark will never have what it takes to win a Championship! * Mark is utterly unaware of the six facts listed above! This tosspot gives all Aussies a bad name! Please only give thumbs down for my comment if you'd like to take Mark off our hands. We'll even throw in Lleyton Hewitt too if that will sweeten the deal!!
        petrol42
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Aussie Aspie
        When Webber was leading the championship a few years ago, I met an Aussie and asked how he felt. He told me that in Australia, Webber is sorta known as a loser and cant' hold his **** together. Well, I was surprised to hear that and I was equally surprised as how Webber lost his **** towards the end of the season and blew his chance of winning an F1 Driver's Championship.
      Hajime1990 #follow
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mark, you forgot to mention Grosjean. No one can be worse than that dude.
        stevenh
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        While Grosjean has had some mis-judgements he is a very fast and quick racer. Maldonado and Massa in my opinion are worse and proven not very quick. Too bad we can not have more Kimi's which are competitive, very fast yet clean and fair
          MikeInNC
          • 1 Year Ago
          @stevenh
          Massa doesn't have the speed he had before his accident but remember, he came within a single pass of winning the championship. Give credit where it is due. Totally agree with you on Grosjean but young fast guys do tend to break equipment. Maybe he'll settle down and still be quick. I'm still lamenting the loss of Kubica. That guy was a real racer in F1 and one heck of a guy from what everyone said. Would love to see him come back to F1 but it's probably out of the question now.
        no1bondfan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        That guy is just dangerous. If you include practice and qualifying, I think he probably has more crashes than races to his credit.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        [blocked]
      GRR
      • 1 Year Ago
      Your forgetting this is not a driver's championship, its a constructors championship. in F1 you see brands race, its set to see Ferrari, Mclaren, Mercedez, etc compete against each other. Its about who can build the ultimate car. Sometimes some drivers job is not even to win but to position the team or set the stage for the other car. On the other hand GP2 is a driver's race, all the cars are the same and its designed to be able to see the drivers compete, in this kind of races the best driver, the driver who can race better, should win. This are two very different type of races. And if you turn to watch F1 its because you want to see the ultimate race cars possible compete, and you know you need allot of money for that, the more the better the cars you want to watch. Plus drivers like Perez & Maldonado which you mention have already proven excellent results in GP2, so they offer the best of both worlds, they are like the ultimate drivers for the ultimate cars, got both money and talent. Webber is just ranting because he's obsolete and useless to F1
        petrol42
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GRR
        What are you talking about? F1 is Constructor's AND Driver's Championship. There have been numerous occasions where an F1 Team has won the Driver's Championship but has lost the Constructor's Championship.
      Jared East
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ban the major cigarettes sponsorships then complain when theres no money and teams are full of pay drivers. F1 is going down hill fast.
      Lou
      • 1 Year Ago
      The quality of the grid is abysmal, just look, Webber was winning.
      avconsumer2
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just now? Rly? Well welcome to the planet there Mr. Webber!!
      Ezomar Uzcátegui
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey Mark, Easy. You know that many of these drivers come from GP2, even they have been champions as GP2 Pastor Maldonado. It is clear that F1 was short for you, but you don´t have to shoot them all!
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