Andy Soucek says that the challenge of raising a budget to join the F1 grid has become 'a problem' with the funds needed to secure a drive having increased in recent seasons.

Soucek joined Virgin as a test driver last year having won the F2 title back in 2009, but left his role to chase a race seat after the in-season testing ban limited his opportunities to drive the VR-01.

The Spaniard continues to work hard on securing a role within the paddock for 2011 but he admitted it was tough as companies continue to battle against the economic downturn and other drivers benefit from backing from the countries they will be representing.

"I am negotiating with several teams, some to be the main driver and others to be the third driver," he told AS. "As a driver you've always needed sponsors and support, but now I see a problem.

"In the current situation with reduced marketing and sponsorship in the world, there are other drivers that are backed politically or even by their countries. It means the prices have gone above what is 'normal', and the teams desperately need the money.

"You win in F3, F2, you do a test with Williams, you drive in GP2, Superleague, but compared to others who are already in F1 you see they have no such achievements. In the end it's not important only to be good."

Dean Stoneman, the man who replaced Soucek as F2 champion, impressed on his F1 test with Williams but faces the same issue as Soucek when it comes to breaking into F1.

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