Jarno Trulli believes Formula 1 has gone back 20 years in the way so many teams view drivers' funding as more important than their level of talent.
With the sport no longer dominated by manufacturers, following the departures of Honda, BMW and Toyota in recent seasons, F1 has seen a resurgence of independent teams. But rather than that being good for the sport, veteran Trulli reckons it has been a detrimental step, because the struggle to finance a team means money can speak louder than talent.
"In the last couple of years F1 has taken an ugly turn: contracts are worth less and less, the only thing that interests is the big money brought by various 'little' drivers," Trulli told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Only four teams can guarantee excellent drivers; as for the rest, the level is extremely poor.
"When I started, there was a lot of quality because many constructors aimed at having winning drivers. Nowadays, many teams' budgets are made of the money brought by the drivers.
"Lotus is the most serious team among the newest entries, but in the event of financial troubles they, too, would need to find money. Serious as it is, our organization is small, the marketing department isn't what you'd find in a top team, it's hard to keep going. F1 has gone back 20 years: many small teams and a few constructors."
With the future of Vitantonio Liuzzi uncertain, amid speculation that Force India could drop him for 2011, there is a chance that Trulli could be the only Italian on the grid this year. Trulli said such an event would be bad for his country – but blames the Italian economy and the fact that Ferrari is dominant in people's psyches as the reasons behind it.
"The CSAI [Italian Motor Racing Commission] can't do so much," he said. "The problems are most of all down to the economy, to our mentality and to Ferrari. Italians only care about Ferrari. Outside Italy, drivers find sponsors in their countries – [Vitaly] Petrov is the latest example – while at home it's a huge struggle."