Jarno Trulli believes wealth is becoming too important as the remaining spaces on the F1 grid fill up for 2011.
For the coming season, the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Heidfeld are facing the prospect of sitting on the sidelines, as respected teams including Williams and Sauber opt instead for race drivers with significant financial backing.
Trulli, one of the oldest and most experienced drivers on the grid, thinks the situation could have knock-on effects for the next generation.
"Today it is so difficult for young drivers," the Italian told Auto Motor und Sport during an interview.
"Money is playing too big a role and the lower series like Formula 3 are too expensive. I couldn't repeat my own career these days," added Trulli, who made his F1 debut in 1997 with Minardi.
The 36-year-old has also raced for major teams including Renault and Toyota, but in 2010 he returned to the back of the grid with Lotus.
"It was not a good season," said Trulli.
In an interview published in Italian by italiaracing, he was more strident.
"I think I deserved a medal for being the unluckiest driver of the year," said Trulli, whose car regularly broke down last season. "There's no need to say it was the worse season in all my life."
To the German publication, he continued: "It was a bit frustrating but it's part of the business. I have accepted it as a transitional season."
Worse still, Trulli insists that the green T127 was not a car to his liking.
"I didn't have what I needed for my driving style," he explained, "so it made the task doubly difficult.
"I need a stiff car that gives me good feedback, but from the first test it was clear that I wouldn't have that."
He knows Lotus is pushing hard to catch up, but can understand some of the criticism of the new teams from established names including Ferrari.
"In the end we are all in the same race and the incumbents should respect those who are just beginning. On the other hand it is true that four seconds behind is too much.
"Now we are a year further ahead and we need a big aero step and a lighter and stiffer car. There is an awful lot to do and if we can do it, then we can fight with the back of the midfield."
But even that is not his goal.
"I must still have the skills that make some people keep believing in me, but just being here is not what I want, which is winning races and the title."
Trulli said he knows first-hand how difficult is Team Lotus' task.
"I raced for Toyota, with great resources and unlimited possibilities, but they never achieved what they wanted to," he noted.