One of the F1 newcomers labelled with the 'pay driver' tag ahead of the 2013 campaign has claimed that anyone breaking into the top flight has to have proved themselves on the way up the ladder.
Max Chilton, who will make his debut with the Marussia team when the F1 circus pitches up in Albert Park next month, has been accused of getting his break because of the money he can bring to the Banbury-based minnow. However, while not denying that he has had to bring something to the team, the Briton also insists that he would not have been considered if he had not produced front-running performances in GP2 last season.
"There's plenty of [pay drivers] on the grid and, in my experience, the sport has never changed,” he told Sky Sports' F1 Show
, “I think it's always been that way and it probably will always be that way - some of the legends in our sport had to bring backing to get into it [in the first place].
"But the one thing I can say is teams will always look at talent first. They want to see that you can put it on pole position and then win races in junior categories. If you've got both of those in place, it's about how you use your opportunity in F1, how you learn from the best and become the best driver possible.
"No team's going to let you behind the wheel if you're not up to it."
Chilton, who won twice in GP2 last year, will be partnered in the least experienced line-up on the 2013 by fellow series graduate Luiz Razia, while Giedo van der Garde and Esteban Gutierrez also step up from the feeder category to fill F1 seats. Ironically, the man who beat them all, Davide Valsecchi, will have to watch from the pit-wall after accepting the reserve role at Lotus, while the likes of Timo Glock, Heikki Kovalainen, Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna all look for alternative employment, their F1 careers, at the very least, on hold for a season.