Crappy teams have indeed always been part of F1 - but not to really compete in F1, they are seduced by the global audience and the potential advertising revenue!
in no other global premier sport would you have players able to have a place in the 1st division simply because they were financially attractive.
Footballers are paid highly BY THE TEAM not the other way around - otherwise all the top football (or soccer for our american friends) would be composed completely of the sons of bankers and dictators - this simply does not happen (usually!)
Sadly that implies that other sports have more talent competing for places than F1, and this will never change when most teams start their negotiations for a new driver with the opening gambit "HOW MUCH CAN YOU PAY US TO DRIVE?".
I would rather have 6 or 7 well funded teams, with the possibility of relegation from the grid if they fail to offer anything.
They all big up the talk to get the place on the grid, but after they've coughed up for uncle bernie - nothing. lapped once purely on performance - pretty bad, lapped more than once - obviously unworthy!
As RBR and MERC have proven, you can come to the grid and mean business .
I agree with you that looking at a guy's pockets instead of his skills is by no means the ideal selection process for the self-designated pinnacle of motorsport. But my point wasn't that. My point was that it has been going since the beginning, thus the prevalence or not of paid drivers is irrelevant to asess any season above any other.
And yes, I am fully aware that it was not your point. You will find that I have this unnerving practice of picking up some post (usually #46's ones) and take from there to make an entirely different point, so I am not actually replying to it but merely taking it as a starting point for my rambling posts, sorry about that!