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Webber laments 'sad state' of F1

Monday 05-August-2013 12:30

Mark Webber fears the quality of drivers on the F1 grid has dipped in recent years as teams seek sponsorship over talent.

Webber made his Formula One debut back in 2002 with Minardi, finishing fifth in his first very first grand prix, racing against the likes of Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard.

But while those may have been the big names of the time, the rest of the field was also full of talented drivers - something the Aussie believes Formula One is missing these days.

With some drivers making the grid based on their sponsorship potential, Webber fears F1 is losing out on talented drivers.

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

"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."

One driver who is set to make the grid next season based on sponsorship is Russia's Sergey Sirotkin. The 17-year-old is expected to line-up for Sauber after the team signed deals with several Russian backers.

And as Webber is nursing his own protege in 19-year-old Mitch Evans, he weighed in on the concerns about putting someone so young on the grid.

"Maybe it's a safety worry, we'll see," Webber said.

"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."

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