15 November 2013
United States Grand Prix: Pay drivers 'unhealthy' for F1 - Webber
Mark Webber has hit out over the state of the F1 driver market in 2013, ahead of his own retirement from the sport at the end of the season after 12 seasons at the highest level of world motorsport.
Mark Webber has slammed the current state of the F1 driver market as "unhealthy", with drivers backed by large sponsorships able to pick and choose which team they went to rather than the teams being able to select their line-up based on driving talent.
"To have a driver say he hasn't made his decision which team he's going to is the wrong way round," Webber said in Austin, Texas on Thursday ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. "Guys are saying, 'I haven't made my decision which team I'm going for, I'm checking which engines are going where and then I'll make my decisions.'
"It's changed a lot in 10 or 12 years, and that makes it quite unhealthy for the driver market," was Webber's summary. "Especially after Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, a bit McLaren ... At this level with all of the smoke and mirrors we should have all of the staff members, everyone at the factory, all the drivers, everyone accounted for.
"The numbers should add up, but it's got itself into a position that there's people that are on the squeeze and that's what the sport needs to address pretty quickly for the sake of everyone," added the Red Bull Racing driver.
Webber, who is due to retire from F1 after next week's Brazilian Grand Prix after 12 years in the sport since his first outing with Minardi which saw him finish in the points in his home event, was able to compare what the sport was like in 2002 compared with how it felt to him today with younger and younger drivers like Daniil Kvyat and Sergey Sirotkin being fast tracked into the sport over more experienced and proven drivers, thanks to the financial package they can being with them.
"In 2002 I'm sitting on the grid and most of the people around me have been on the podium in F1," he said. "Most of them have got a lot of experience ... There's a system that you need the top guys in here that are hungry for it all the time, which I was when I arrived.
"You have to give young talent a chance, so it's not saying that you always have to have experienced guys because then there's a bottleneck in bringing young talent through," he was quick to add. "That's also why I don't want to outstay my welcome - it's not a charity.
With the end of his own time in F1 now only a little over a week away, Webber is still highly motivated to go out on a high with one final visit to the top step of the podium either this week in Austin or at the season finale next weekend in Sao Paulo.
"You never count your chickens in F1," said Webber. "But this track looks like the sort of place that should play to the strengths of our car. I want to end my F1 career on a high, which means getting podiums.
“Last year's race didn't end well,” he admitted. “But I like the circuit; it has some very challenging sections and it's very rewarding to drive when you get it right. You can really give the car its head through the first sector in particular because it's fast and flowing, quite like Becketts at Silverstone. You have to be very precise because the corners are inter-linked and you need to position the car right.”
"I feel like I'm driving well at the moment, so let's see what Sunday brings," he added.
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