Mark Webber claims the current Formula 1 grid is the weakest it has ever been following the continued rise of pay drivers.
The nine-time grand prix winner, who retired from F1 at the end of 2013 to join Porsche's factory LMP1 effort, believes the depth of talent is weakening to the detriment of the sport.
Pay drivers have always been a feature of Formula 1 but rising costs has seen teams sign drivers with backing to ease their finances.
The former Red Bull star feels the category risks losing its appeal unless the depth of talent on the grid is addressed.
“These guys are on a phenomenal level but the depth has never been weaker,” Webber told the BBC.
“We need to get the calibre that we have at the front of the grid. We need more depth and the cars to be faster.
“If you go from the top 10 back, there are a lot of pay drivers. This is not good.
“The physical components are the lowest it's ever been. It's like a rugby tackle but 30 percent softer.”
Retiring from the sport before the introduction of the V6 hybrid turbo era in 2014, Webber has strong feelings on the current regulations which has seen speeds decrease in the last two season.
The Australian says the cars no longer provide drivers with the challenges of the past.
“The drivers want cars that are more demanding,” added Webber.
“It's a bit like being an F-18 fighter pilot but flying for British Airways. They're within their comfort zone, pacing races. It's frustrating.
“F1 should be the pinnacle. It should be by far the fastest through the corners, physical on the drivers and things where the drivers are the gladiators again.
“The car still needs to be something the fans have never seen anything like before. There's so many categories which are close to them now.”
Keen to see F1 provide more challenging cars in the future, he believes the sport should introduce closed cockpits in the wake of the recent death of British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson.
Wilson succumbed to a severe head injury last month after being struck on the head by debris during a race at Pocono.
“I am a purist, but I'd like to see them closed. They're delaying the inevitable now. It's going to come,” added Webber.
“In 10 years it probably will be there so let's just bring it forward and find a way that is elegant and safe for extraction.
“There's enough experts to make that happen.”