The FIA’s controversial proposal to obligate each of the WRC teams to field at least one inexperienced driver in 2004 could cause the immediate retirement of several veteran drivers.

The FIA’s controversial proposal to obligate each of the WRC teams to field at least one inexperienced driver in 2004 could cause the immediate retirement of several former world champions.

According to reports, the FIA wants teams that have three official drivers taking part in championship events to nominate a young third driver with no previous wins in World Rally Championship events.

To leading teams such as Peugeot and Citroën, which already have three or more drivers, the proposed rule comes as a shock. Peugeot’s Marcus Gronholm, Richard Burns, Harri Rovanpera and Gilles Panazzi - and Citroën’s Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and Sebastien Loeb - have all won at least one event in the past, meaning that both teams would have to make changes in their driver line-ups.

“The problem is the following: politically, everybody seems convinced that we should be entering three cars, even though for some teams this is still an issue,” said Peugeot's team boss Corrado Provera. “In order to keep these cars, we should find a compromise by which the third car is driven by a ‘weaker' driver. I don't like this very much. In a way, it pulls down our sport.”

Smaller teams, however, are more in favour of such a change, which would bring all teams on a more level ground, at least in the driver department. For a young, inexperienced driver, the new rule may be a good opportunity to land a drive.

But could the move spell the end of the careers of experienced drivers such as Sainz, Rovanpera or Pannizi?

Original article from Car