Schumacher and F1’s oldest ever drivers

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Has the old boy got it in him to do another victory leap?
Has the old boy got it in him to do another victory leap?

At 40 years, seven months and 20 days, Michael Schumacher will be the oldest F1 driver to start a Grand Prix in 14 years when he makes his highly-anticipated return at Valencia next month.

But that doesn’t bring him anywhere near the record for an oldest Grand Prix starter. He’ll have to come back in 2024 if he wants to break that…

Oldest F1 race starters

Here are the ten oldest drivers to start a round of the F1 world championship:

1. Louis Chiron, 55y 9m 19d, 1955 Monaco Grand Prix
2. Philippe Etancelin, 55y 6m 8d, 1952 French Grand Prix
3. Arthur Legat, 54y 7m 20d, 1953 Belgian Grand Prix
4. Luigi Fagioli, 53y 22d, 1951 French Grand Prix
5. Adolf Brudes, 52y 9m 19d, 1952 German Grand Prix
6. Hans Stuck, 52y 8m 17d, 1953 Italian Grand Prix
7. Bill Aston, 52y 4m 5d, 1952 German Grand Prix
8. Clemente Biondetti, 52y 16d, 1950 Italian Grand Prix
9. Louis Rosier, 50y 9m, 1956 German Grand Prix
10. Rudolf Schoeller, 50y 3m 7d, 1952 German Grand Prix

Record-holder Chiron, who was born in the 19th century, did make a subsequent attempts to qualify for the further races. His last was in 1958, aged 58, again at Monaco.

It’s plain that in the 1950s Formula 1 racing was the preserve of a much older generation of drivers. At the other end of the scale, last weekend saw the debut of the youngest F1 driver ever, Jaime Alguersuari, less than half Schumacher’s age.

But it’s not as if younger drivers did not also compete. Peter Collins entered the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix at the age of 20 years, six months and ten days. Troy Ruttman was four months younger when he raced in the 1950 Indianapolis 500, then a round of the world championship.

The last driver older than Schumacher to start a race was Nigel Mansell, who was 41 years, nine months and six days old when he made his final, ill-fated appearance for McLaren in Spain in 1995.

Since then Channoch Nissany, a 41 year-old Israeli businessman, bought a Minardi test in 2005.

Oldest champion racers

Schumacher will not even rank among the top 100 oldest F1 drivers of all time. And the record for the oldest Grand Prix winner is a long way out of sight, too: Luigi Fagioli claimed that in the 1951 French Grand Prix, aged 53 years and 22 days.

However Schumacher will be the seventh oldest former champion to start a race:

Giuseppe Farina, 48y 7m 6d, 1953 Belgian Grand Prix
Juan Manuel Fangio, 47y 12d, 1958 French Grand Prix
Graham Hill, 45y 11m 11d, 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix
Jack Brabham, 44y 6m 23d, 1970 Mexican Grand Prix
Mario Andretti, 42y 7m 28d, 1982 USA Grand Prix (Las Vegas)
Nigel Mansel, 41y 9m 6d, 1995 Spanish Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher, 40y 7m 20d, 2009 European Grand Prix*

*Race yet to be run

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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99 comments on “Schumacher and F1’s oldest ever drivers”

  1. nice article kieth

    1. Isn’t Schumi older than the Toro Rosso driver line up?

  2. samindenver
    31st July 2009, 11:24

    fantastic keith, thanks for the good read

    1. HAHA! I just noticed that the picture makes it look like Felipe is punching Schumi in the face!! :D :D

      1. Hahahaha, good spot!

  3. Guys! I had an extemely exciting thought today!!!

    Imagine Bourdais had not been replaced by Alguesari, but by… Sebastien Loeb!!

    This would be unbelievable!! A 7 time F1 world champion going against a 5 time rallye world champion.
    Things like that happen only once in a century.

    Although, yeah, we all know, Loeb wouldn’t have a competitive car driving for Torro Rosso and there wouldn’t be any battle. But, just the mere thought of those two legends meeting… wow.

    1. The last driver older than Schumacher to start a race was Nigel Mansell, who was 41 years, nine months and six days old when he made his final, ill-fated appearance for McLaren in Spain in 1995.

      Mansell was also 41 when he won his last Grand Prix (Adelaide 1994). Which proves that a 40+year-old man can still successfuly drive a modern F1 car.

    2. They met at the ROC of 2007 – Loeb won that one.

    3. and it would have been the 4th Sebastien to at Torro Rosso in 2 years!

    4. and it would have been the 4th Sebastien to race at Torro Rosso in 2 years!

  4. Interesting stats, indeed.

    A morbid thought on the 50s’ racers: they’re all so relatively old because many younger drivers were killed on battlefields. :-\

  5. just hoping for him to fail the super license test :)

    1. and his fitness test :)

      1. Did he murder your family or something?

        1. no, he murdered formula one :(

          1. Really!?! For me Formula 1 is alive and well, particularly so during the Schumacher years, he was a joy to watch… a few small episodes aside :-)

          2. Bigbadderboom
            31st July 2009, 13:24

            @mp4-19b I often agree with your comments, but I am a Mclaren fan, I am a supporter of British motorsport, but your bitterness towards (wether you like it or not) the greatest modern GP driver is somewhat petty, your begining to sound slightly mad!!!

          3. Rules killed Formula One, not him.

          4. mp4.. comon man show some respect to one of the greatest drivers F1 has seen… :) we know you can do it

          5. Rules killed Formula One, not him.


            It’ll be great having Schumi back, he wont be in a dominant car like before. Its going to be GREAT!!! :D

          6. Bernification
            1st August 2009, 3:06

            ha ha ha. Nope, that was the veto.

          7. he wont be in a dominant car like before.

            Well he was not in a dominat car when he won the first tow WDC…

    2. Not picking but you need to cut the guy a break. He was courted by Dennis and Ferrari at the same time, Ferrari won him over, else Mclarens history would have been different and you would be ecstatic.

  6. Very interesting article Keith, really shows the age of the racers in the beginning, and its interesting how that has reduced by more than half for todays starter 19yr old Alguersuari.

    I feel though that the only comparable drivers to what Schumacher is attempting now are Mansell and Andretti, and as Damon said Mansell won the race in Adelaide …admittedly after Hill & Schumi crashed out, and so what, he still won at 40+.

    I have no fear for Schumi and think he will do admirably in Valencia, a win? who knows!

    1. Damon said Mansell won the race in Adelaide …admittedly after Hill & Schumi crashed out, and so what, he still won at 40+

      no, infact mansell put his williams on pole & won in a very convincing manner, sad that williams did not protest against schumi, as they were preoccupied with the man slaughter case against them in italy. If they would have protested, i’m sure schumacher would have been in trouble.

      1. Aye, you know what? my memory ain’t what it was… doh!

        1. Yup, Mansell drove to the pole in Adelaide at 41. He dominated the IndyCar championship at 40 in 1993 just as he dominated F1 in 1992 at 39.
          Those were his most successful years.

  7. I read on Autosport’s website that Schumi has hired an F2007 and is pounding around Mugello today. You would have thought that after all his years of service, Ferrari would have given him a car as a gift wouldn’t you.

    In fact they could have “given” him an F2008 with F60 aero on it as a thank you for returning to the cockpit..!!

    1. is that not against the spirit of the rules??

      1. I don’t get how the test ban is any close to the F1 Spirit.

        F1 = Technology = Research = Test

        Let’s not talk about being forced to put a newbie in a F1 car without even let him practice with it.

        (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Mclaren/Lewis fan, but these comments don’t make any sense.)

        1. (with newbie i was referring to Jamie Alguesuari, not Schumi. LOL :))

      2. not really he is driving a totally different car outside of the rules.. it is not going to help him with car development in absolutely any way since 2007 has completely different design and center of gravity, so you can stick whatever wings on it you wont it wont help. But this will help him get handle on some drive time and see how his fitness keeps up..

      3. Do you want to start up the whole spirit of the rules bit.
        This sport is about racing and development of cars and technology.
        The testing ban has been the biggest bust of any rule that has come out.
        If I had a team and wanted to test, I would test 1 way or another, if the others didnt that would be their loss.

    2. I think an F2008/F60 hybrid would be frowned upon, and I doubt he would want to use his own car for this testing… not just because of the additional mileage, but if he prangs it as well.

      An un-modernised F2007 would be no different than racing historic or something like that, so it’s all good. It shows that maybe the teams can do something to test young drivers at least in future years.

    3. They gave him his last F1 car as a gift at the end of 2006.
      I think today he’s just trying to get some practice laps in, so it doesn’t really matter what car he is driving. The F2007 is propably the newest car he is allowed to drive (Due to testing ban)

      1. are they allowed to test at ovals?

    4. Do you think they would be allowed to throw some of the current Bridgestone slicks on the F2007 for Schuey?

      It would still be much different from the F60, but I imagine it would be of some value for sure.

  8. I’m just back from Mugello, where I was able only to see a dozen of laps, with no chance to record lap times. The car was actually a 2007 one, but I wasn’t able to see if he has slick or grooved tyres, or if he had all aerodynamic devices on. Sorry but I was in the wood around the track (it was with no audience allowed) and quite far from the car.
    He seemed to push with no fear, anyway. Probably not hard as the last test I attended there (October 2006), but pretty fast.

    1. is there someone from the FIA inspecting at mugello? what if he uses a F60 with a different livery? even if he uses the F60, who’s there at the track from stopping him? mugello is as good as a ferrari owned track. will it not be against the rules if he uses a F60 in the coming few days. i find it very interesting that he’s chosed a f2007, cuz it is the first non-schumi ferrari, maybe in the coming few days he’ll use a f2008 & then proceed with the hybrid & maybe go on to thest the actual car itself!! hope some FIA official is there to monitor this. as this is schumacher we are talking about, you just never know.

      1. no he is driving the 2007 car is it frigging says, also David saw it as he stated. This is great for him to put in some laps and practice. You do not have to worry he will be fully prepared to handle the new cars :)

      2. give it a break mp4-bla bla bla… ur jus a shumi hater thats ur right but there is no way in any shape or form that MS will behind the wheel of an f60 before euro GP! thats a fact so give it a rest ur startin to sound like u belive in ufo’s,loughness monsters and the like :) haha… chump!

    2. David – Cool, do you know how long he was testing there for? Anything else you can tell us?

      1. he used slicks from GP2

  9. Andrew White
    31st July 2009, 13:25

    An interesting stat that I read elsewhere was that Schumacher, who was born in the 1960s, will be racing against Alguersuari, who was born in the 1990s.

  10. mp4-19b, in the wood I wasn’t able to find anybody inspecting from FIA. But there was a Tuscan countryman there, with a wine bottle and a suspicious air…

  11. what are the chances of piquet jr driving at valencia or spa? if that does happen it will be unique, cuz schumacher if one goes back to 1991 was at benetton driving along side none other than piquet sr!!! has this ever happened before?? Flavio must allow piquet to race atleast once with schoe, at least for the record :)

    1. a driver racing against both father & son!!
      very unique indeed :) piquet jr choose a wrong time to criticize uncle flav. :(

      1. Not unique at all.
        A unique thing was when Marco Andretti raced against his father Michael Andretti in Indy500. They came 2nd (the son) and third (the father).

        Michael Andretti also raced against his father, Mario Andretti (1978 F1 champ), in the early years of his career.

        So, Michael Andretti has raced against both his father and his son!!!

        1. Which means Michael Adretti raced against a driver and his grandson. :)

    2. well im glad you are seeing some positives of Schu return, that’s the way you should be thinking :]

  12. Who will Schumacher’s points go to? To himself, to Felipe Massa or to none?

    1. He won’t get any point. lol

      1. You answered it yourself: “Schumacher’s points”.
        Too bad we’ve already had the German GP this year. That would be a frenzy over there!! Anyway, I can see maaaaany Schumi fans turning up in all the GPs this year he will be competing in.

    2. His points will be awarded to himself in addition Massa’s will also still remain valid.

  13. Hershel McGriff at 81 years old is the oldest NASCAR driver, and he’s still partially active. He’s been in motorsport for six decades!

    1. my goodness! I didn’t know anyone even remembered Hershel. Thought it was only us old guys.

      Hershel retired from full-time racing at in 2002, at the age of 74, but still competes occasionally at certain events.

      He just competed at Portland on the 19th of July, yup, just a few days ago, 81 years old and still kickin’ the youngsters’ butts, lol. :)

      Kinda makes me think that at 40, Schumi will be just fine.

      1. Heck, forgot to mention. Hershel isn’t just a Nascar driver. He also ran many Pan American races, and competed at Le Mans at least one year, 1982 I think it was.

  14. Maybe there is more to Michael Schumacher’s choice of the 2007 car than meets the eye, since I’m sure he could have had last years car if he had wanted it. Valencia is supposed to be most like Monaco of any circuit….. and guess what after looking it up… the lap times for the 2007 cars round Monaco are virtually identical to this years cars…… but the 2008, 2006 etc cars are quite different….. makes you think…

  15. Nick Caulfield
    31st July 2009, 15:08

    Since it’s clear that in the ’50s, the average age of racers was higher, I think that it might be fun to look at a graph charting the average age of the field on one line with the age of the oldest participant also showing.

    …or possibly a single line showing the difference between the average and the oldest.

    It may also be interesting to see, out of all the races where the winner has been older than the average of the field, what has been the greatest amount by which a race winner has been older than the average of all the participants.

    regrettably I am not in a position to do this number crunching but if there were a keen volunteer reading this…

    1. Max should resign now!!!
      1st August 2009, 5:43

      regrettably I am not in a position to do this number crunching but if there were a keen volunteer reading this…

      yeah, me neither…but great idea though. Maybe Keith would like to do it.

    1. mp4-19b You really hate Schumi don’t you :-P

    2. haha, he doesnt need anymore money, hes got so much money he wipes his @#$ with it everyday.

  16. recently i came across an article in f1 live which confirmed that the renault test driver Romain Grosjean completed straight line testing at runaway of the Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridgeshire. now my question is:- are there any officials from the FIA to oversee the test? if not, it might well be possible for teams to test at airport runways on the pretext of straight line testing & do something like this!!!!

    you see its very easy to set up a temporary circuit round the runway. this one at Leeds and Bradford Airport is decent enough to test & improve the car. but the important question i’m trying to raise is whether these “straight line” tests are overseen by some FIA official.

    1. Bigbadderboom
      31st July 2009, 17:55

      If it was a Mclaren would you be so suspicious mp4? These are extraordinary circumstances and I am sure that Ferrari will respect the rules, there has been a better atmosphere and respect for rules and regulations recently, Martin Whitmarsh and Luca Montezemolo are both operating much more open teams. The FOTA relationship is very important and at the moment almost self regulates against cheating.
      If I was you mp4, I would get myself a cool drink and look forward to what will be a fantastic second half to the season, and maybe you should concentrate your energies on wishing Lewis and Heiki success as opposed to wishing Ferrari and Schumi failure. We are being given a great opportunity to watch 4 WDC race against eachother in comparativley competitive cars…….Just enjoy it mate!

      1. well said. just DO IT MP4!!