Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has urged F1 to react to the global economic climate and find a way to bring down costs.
Over the off-season, experienced figures like Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock have lost their drives in F1 with Caterham and Marussia forced to look for drivers wit budget – continuing a trend that has seen smaller teams on the grid left with no option but to find pay drivers in order to compete.
Sauber is a team known for bringing through young talent in the past but, when quizzed on whether it would be possible to teams to sign young drivers in future if they didn't bring money, Kaltenborn said things would have to change if rival teams were to be able to adopt a similar approach.
“All these discussions about 'pay drivers' have lost ground a bit for me,” she told the official F1 website. “What we see is that many partners or sponsors support drivers from the very beginning.
“A good example is Sergio. He has been part of the Escuderia Telmex, which is a racing school. They have been supporting him from the very beginning and it is natural that when he enters the pinnacle of motorsports, they come along. You have so many top drivers out there who have also brought along their partners who have supported them right from the beginning.
“You don't talk about pay drivers in lower series because it is normal that a driver has partners that support him. So why not use the same standard in Formula One? Then you wouldn't have all these pay driver discussions. Sure, it would be good for Formula One to look more closely at the costs. We have to do something. Over the years we see that the economic climate is also getting to us. And not just to the smaller teams, but the whole sport.
“In this environment we cannot expect to always have a high level of income from the commercial rights holder. We really have to find a way to react to this.”
Kaltenborn added that it could be seen as worrying to have experienced drivers forced out of their roles in favour of drivers with budget.
“It is, in a way, worrying if that really is the reason they had to move out,” she said. “That would not be a good development because Formula One needs to have the best drivers and not necessarily the ones with the money. But then one also has to be fair to the young drivers coming in and not immediately label them as pay drivers.
“There has always been fluctuation on the grid and nobody was harping on about pay drivers. Everybody who comes into Formula One is on a high level and if there are only a limited number of seats, then of course every team is looking for the best option. Who wouldn't?”