I think it is fair — very fair — to say that we all would count Mark Webber as among the best spoken, most logical, most clear-thinking Formula 1 drivers in terms of fan interaction.
I know this is due in part to the language issues of a global sport, but even setting that aside, Mark is known to speak his mind and mostly make an awful lot of sense.
Well, his latest comments don’t. Here they are:
“I don’t know if they [fans] will get sick of seeing so many different winners,” he said.
“It’s nice to have different winners but also we want rivals.”
Sorry, that didn’t come through correctly:
Everyone I’ve talked to is as enthusiastic about this season as any I can remember. There’s no feeling of inevitability to individual races. Qualifying still seems to matter above all, but so do choices during the races. And, despite all the changes at the top of race podiums, the healthy rivalry of Red Bull — Ferrari — McLaren remains the cream of the field.
Pastor Maldonado can talk all he wants of winning the driver’s title, in other words, but it isn’t going to happen. Might he win another race? Sure. But Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button is going to walk off as the driver’s champ.
Notice I don’t include Mark in that list. Yes, he’s sitting fifth in the hunt, behind Kimi Raikkonen and ahead of Button. But his time has come and gone. He remains incredibly solid, but he no longer has that “it” one needs to win it all. (That “it” might be a car attuned to his needs over his teammate’s.)
So could it be a little frustration at Pastor winning a race before him? Maybe.
But then there’s also his point to consider, despite my total dismissal of it. Is all the different winners winning races hurting F1 with fans? Does anyone want to say, “Yes,” to that?
* Note: If Pastor wins in Monaco, I reserve the right to change some of these assumptions.