Two Top Drivers Only - Making it Fair?

From Adrian Kirk-Burnnand [ 21/05/2003 ].
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If a proposed rule is accepted by the FIA World Council, what will it mean? The basis of the proposed rule is that World Rally Teams could only enter two experienced drivers on events and any third driver must not have finished in the top-three on a WRC event in the past three years. This currently puts Peugeot and Citroen in a tricky situation. It also means that the drivers released by teams, both top and 'novice', will find it difficult to secure a seat with a desired team. The apparent aim of the rule, to place the top drivers more evenly amongst the teams. Drivers and teams would hardly agree that it would be a clever decision.

With the introduction of the points eligibility to three cars rule all teams have experimented with using three cars in order to maximise championship point odds. It's only logical, but some teams have also decided to only run two cars on all or the majority of events - due mainly to cost factors.

Championship leaders Peugeot would face a tough decision under the proposed rule. They currently run four drivers and would need to drop two of those. Out of Richard Burns, Marcus Gronholm, Harri Rovanpera, Gilles Panizzi one would expect them to end their contracts with Harri and Gilles.

Citroen would be in a situation to end a contract with either Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz or Sebastian Loeb - certainly a hard decision.

It would be nice to see three of the above drivers in different teams, it can be agreed that this would even stakes. However, the question is where would they go? But more importantly how would the situation work if a future team-mate of those drivers finished in the top-3.

The rule is beleived to allow the team to select their two main drivers per event, instead of the current situation where the two top drivers are fixed for the season. This would be a good change allowing a team to select their drivers appropriately per event, however, with part of the idea of the rule to encourage nurturing of new talent where would this talent go if they finished in the top-3 on an event?

Even if the rule allows them to drive with that team for the remainder of the season as a third driver (instead of immediately being inelligable), it is likely that if their top-3 performance(s) from that season will not be impressive enough to encourage offers from other teams as one of the lead driver and the team they scored the place with would most likely (eg. take Peugeot) keep their two top drivers.

To avoid a situation like that it would be horrible to see one fo the so called 'novice' drivers taking a time penalty so as to not finish in the top-3?

Costs? Some teams of course do not employ the top drivers as they simply can not afford them. With the current case that three top drivers would be out of contract, not to mention those who's contract's finish anyway and may be looking to switch teams with two top drivers already, would drivers simply miss out?

Without clarifying a number of aspects of the proposed rule, but expecting it

Encouraging even competition is a good idea and the fact that some teams are able to run three top drivers is not helping even competition, but it could be argued the team who sports three top drivers is deserving of a points reward and it's just the other teams who need to catch up.

A possible solution? A new rule; the co-driver of the third car of the championship leading must be a team promotional girl? If they still take points feel free to discuss that on the message board...