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Webber calls Vettel F1’s best, says Maldonado is “out of his depth”

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Mark Webber has picked former Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel as the best driver on the current Formula 1 grid, while putting Pastor Maldonado at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Webber raced in F1 between 2002 and 2013 before joining Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship, whom with he won the title in 2015.

Webber remains a keen observer of F1, and was recently asked to assess the current grid during the Australian Motoring Awards.

Despite enjoying a somewhat frosty relationship with Vettel during their time together at Red Bull, Webber picked the German as the best of the current crop of drivers, narrowly ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

“If you’re talking Formula 1, the good boys always find themselves at the front and the good guys always find themselves in the best cars,” Webber said, as quoted by Wheels Magazine.

“Lewis has always been an incredibly fast, naturally gifted guy in all conditions and he’s very, very insensitive to tracks and to light rain and drizzle. It’s these sorts of things that makes the caliber of a very, very fast and phenomenal driver.

“Someone like Seb, he’s very good at the resources, at pulling the whole team together and getting everything around him and filling in his weaknesses. He’s exceptional on that front.

“Fernando, I wouldn’t say he’s running out of puff, but his motivation I think at the moment is challenged for sure.

“But those three are on a very, very, high level. And if I had to pick one, I’d probably pick Sebastian, in terms of pulling the whole juggernaut together and getting the whole team going, which I think he will do at Ferrari shortly.

“He’s notoriously consistent and unfortunately I was on the receiving end of a lot of that, but he’s pretty handy. Lewis has a little bit more of that mind-management challenge, whereas Sebastian is true to form in the Germanic fashion of that delivery.”

Webber was then asked to name the worst driver he had raced against, and quickly named current Lotus (soon to be Renault) driver Maldonado.

“Probably Maldonado,” Webber said.

“He’s out of his depth and just shouldn’t be there. He’s making up the numbers basically.”

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.