John Surtees has called for Formula 1 teams and the FIA to do more to make sure top young drivers aren't prevented from reaching the pinnacle of the sport due to a lack of money.
Speaking on the main stage at AUTOSPORT International to promote the charity set up in memory of his late son Henry, the 1964 world champion said he was disappointed to see the number of drivers buying seats in Formula 1 going up again.
"We've returned to a situation like in the 1970s where one or two teams - including my own back then - have to take drivers with budgets," said Surtees. "I'd hoped we'd lost that period forever. When Bernie Ecclestone came in and all the money came in I'd hoped that the sport was healthy enough to take talent for the sake of ability.
"I think that's a very sad development, and we need to look inwards to ensure that the ability which is out there coming through the ranks does have a path to follow to reach the top.
"People who succeed should have an automatic scholarship through so they don't have to raise money. It's ludicrous. I think the powers that be have to look carefully at supporting the sport from within."
Surtees added that teams could run third cars specifically for young drivers to make sure that there are spaces on the grid for new talent.
"It would be nice if teams were allowed or persuaded to run a third car, and that third car was for someone who had succeeded in the lower categories," he said. "Then there is always a space for this ability to feed itself into Formula 1 without coming up with millions of pounds to sit in a seat.
"We need to get away from the bought places. Formula 1 should be the optimum, and we should have the very best people there. We need to work towards that."