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@Josh - I'm not suggesting that a driver doesn't need backing to break into F1, nor am I suggesting that most drivers don't bring money in. I am disagreeing with your ascertion that there is no driver on the grid that would remain if their backing were to cease.
Do you honestly believe that if Alonso lost his personal sponsorship that Ferrari would drop him? He is far and away the best driver currently in Formula 1 and Ferrari don't need the money like Williams do, for example.
Follow your logic through - if money talked in absolute terms, Maldonado would be driving for RBR, Macca or Ferrari. There's no way Webber can match Maldonado's sponsorship, so why does Webber have the better drive? Because he is the better driver.