Mark Webber says the standard of drivers in F1 has fallen since he entered the sport 11 years ago.
Webber, who is quitting F1 to join the World Endurance Championship at the end of the year, believes today’s grid is not as strong as it was in 2002.
“When I was on the grid at the back with Minardi you had [Eddie] Irvine, [Mika] Salo – all those guys had been on podiums,” he told Autosport.
Now he believes “there are a lot of talented guys out there, but a lot are slipping through the net unfortunately. That’s a sad state.”
Webber singled out Sauber reserve driver Robin Frijns as a “phenomenal young talent” who was struggling to find a place in F1 as he did not have any money behind him.
During the off-season race-winners and podium-scorers such as Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock lost F1 drives as their teams had to find drivers who could bring backing.
When Webber made his grand prix debut in Melbourne 11 years ago there were nine race-winning drivers on the grid: Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Olivier Panis, Jacques Villeneuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Eddie Irvine.
At this year’s season-opening race there were also nine former race winners among 22 starters. Webber was one of them, along with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Pastor Maldonado.
Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win
Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.
“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”
With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.
In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).
Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.
“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”
NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.
Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)
450 Class Championship Standings
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)