In 2002 we had only Schumi and Villeneuve who were proven champions. Than we had many solid and/or promising drivers such as Ralf, Montoya, Fisi, Irvine, Panis, Trulli, Alonso, Button and so on. As far as I can tell only Bernoldi and Young were obviously undeserving of their seats.
In 2013 we have three super drivers in Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton, many very good ones (who would be WDC contenders in the right car with a mediocre team mate) such as Rosberg, Webber, Button, Kimi (in MY opinion, feel free to disagree
), and some descent but not proven to be potential WDC contenders such as Sutil, The Hulk, Ricciardo, Vergne, Perez, Maldonado, Bottas, Bianchi and so on. The ones who arguably do not deserve a place in F1 on merit is (IN MY VIEW) are Chilton and van der Garde.
Sure, some descent drivers are left without a seat due to lacking funds, but have we really lost out on much my not having Trulli, Heidfeld and Kova in F1? I'd rather see promising young drivers get a chance, and even someone like Gutiérrez who without doubt is a pay driver still won the GP3 championship and finished third in GP2 last year. And guys like Maldonado and Grosjean have plenty of talent even if they of course ain't as good as Vettel. There are A LOT of drivers around, and some are going to lose out no matter what.