The drivers of this era, the Hamiliton's, Alonso's and Vettel's have it very good indeed. They get to test their ability against a strong field of drivers. The cars they drive in do not reflect parity, however things could be a lot worse.
A brief look at the 2002 season confirms this. First lets compare drivers.Elite Drivers
2012 - 3 vs 2002- 1
AlonsoVery good drivers
2012 - 2 vs 2002 - 2
Kimi (I could put him in elite) Juan
Jenson KimiGood drivers
2012 -10 vs 2002 - 6
The field today for me is far better Cars who are capable of winning Championships
2012 - 2/3 vs 2002- 1
Red Bull Ferrari
McLarenCars capable of winning multiple races
2012 - 3 vs 2002 - 1
Red Bull Ferrari
FerrariCars capable of winning races at some point
2012 - 7 vs 2002 - 3
Force India (Hulky could have won Brazil
More cars capable of winning and more drivers in decent cars.
F1 can change year for year, the next year after 2002 featured a better season. But the one after (2004) was just as bad, the one before (2001) was pretty dire also.
2011 was pretty bad in terms of competitiveness, but 2010 was top draw.
My point is despite 2011, we are in a bit of a golden period, better drivers and better cars. The gulf between the quality of drivers from 2012 to 2002 is mental in my view. Ferrari tyranny from 2001-2004 was bad for the sport, Red Bull dominating 2011 was bad but that was one year in the past 3.
Its great for us fans but also the drivers, I feel competing against more credible challengers in decent cars enhances legacy. Vettel as much as I may not rate him compared to Lewis and Alonso, has won two Championships (2010 and 2012) against a class of cars and drivers that are better for their time than Schumacher ever faced in my view.
So when we all moaning about Lewis vs Jenson or BBC losing coverage remember we are in a golden age.
Edit: Sorry about my opinion of stats being grouped together and hard to read, I cannot space them for some reason.