Max Chilton insists Marussia would not have looked his way if he didn't have the talent to compete in Formula One.
Chilton is one of five rookies making his debut this season and, like many of his rivals, enters Formula One with a healthy sponsorship package smoothing the way.
The Brit has been joined at Marussia by fellow rookie Luiz Razia, who purchased Timo Glock's seat after the team parted ways with German due to financial reasons.
Chilton, though, is adamant Marussia would not have turned to them if they didn't have the talent to go with the sponsorship.
"There's plenty of them [pay drivers] on the grid and in my experience the sport has never changed," the 21-year-old told The 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.
"But the one thing I can say is teams will always look at talent first.
"They want to see you can put it on pole position and then win races in junior categories. Then if you've got both of those in place it's about 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."