John Surtees says there needs to be an overhaul in how young drivers make their way into F1 to ensure that the most talented succeed.
As belts are tightened around the world, more and more teams are turning to drivers who have personal sponsorship deals to fund their careers.
Surtees, though, believes a system needs to be put into place to ensure that talent finds a way to the pinnacle of motorsport.
"What we need is a structure whereby you have success rewarded by the advancement of career," the 1964 F1 World Champion said while on the Autosport Stage.
"Where else other than in motorsport can you win one series and then be rewarded by a team at the next level telling you 'that will be £550,000 for a season please'? It's terrifying."
"We need a specified number of formulas laid down and recognised internationally so that if you win one, you get a scholarship to move into the next category, and keep that going all the way to Formula 1."
Surtees, though, concedes teams do need money but that it should not come at the expense of talented drivers without funding.
"When I ran my team, I was frustrated by having to take pay-drivers, but I always tried to make sure I paired them with a driver I really believed in.
"But back when I raced, the stopwatch was far more important.
"When I made the transition from bikes to cars, I did races all over the world on each, and it didn't cost me a penny because people offered me drives an rides that were already paid for.
"Even when I started my team I put our car on the grid for the British Grand Prix at a cost of £23,000. That included £7500 for the Cosworth engine - a very competitive engine at the time, and £500 for the gearbox.
"It's a very different technological age now."
Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.