F1 has witnessed the talent of drivers from several generations.
While youth and agility are often associated with F1 these days, there have been notable people who defied the barriers of age and competed late in their careers, particularly in the 1950s.
In this article, then, we’re exploring the 10 most veteran drivers in Formula 1 history, celebrating their enduring passion, skill and commitment to motorsport. From their impressive careers to their exceptional longevity, some of these drivers have left an indelible mark on the world of Formula 1, while others only made a couple of appearances before the end of their respective racing days.
You thought that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen had been in the sport for years; Turns out the former has a long way to go if he wants to join this particular list…
10 Rudolf Schoeller – 50 years, 98 days – 1952 German Grand Prix
Rudolf Schoeller was a racing driver from Switzerland. He entered only one Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, on August 3, 1952, which was the 1952 German Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he retired from the race with shock absorber problems and scored no championship points in his only exit.
9 Louis Rosier – 50 years, 274 days – 1956 German Grand Prix
French driver Louis Rosier secured his place among the oldest Formula 1 drivers by taking part in the 1956 German Grand Prix at the age of 50. Rosier had a successful career in sports car racing before making his Formula 1 debut in 1950, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He achieved a notable victory at the 1950 Dutch Grand Prix in F1. Rosier sadly died later that year in 1956, following an accident.
8 Clemente Biondetti – 52 years, 16 days – 1950 Italian Grand Prix
Clemente Biondetti was an Italian rider who competed on motorcycles before moving to cars where he was more successful.
His success in road racing was minimal, but he was one of the best in endurance events. He won more Mille Miglias than any other driver in history, in 1938, 1947, 1948 and 1949, and also won the Coppa Acerbo in 1939 and the Targa Florio in 1948 and 1949.
His racing career came to a halt after the outbreak of World War II and when he was able to resume racing after the war, he was 49 years old.
7 Bill Aston – 52 years, 127 days – 1952 German Grand Prix
Aston was a British racing driver who entered three World Championship Grands Prix in 1952, driving for his own Aston Butterworth team.
Before taking part in World Championship Grand Prix racing, Aston was a test driver and motorcycle racer.
6 Hans Stuck – 52 years, 260 days – 1953 Italian Grand Prix
Hans Stuck was a German racing driver. Both his son Hans-Joachim Stuck and his grandsons Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck became racing drivers, following in his footsteps.
Despite many successes in Grand Prix motor racing for Auto Union in the early 1930s, during the era of Mercedes’ famous “Silver Arrows”, it was known primarily for its mastery of hillclimb events, which which earned him the nickname “Bergkönig” or “King of the Mountains”.
He participated in 5 F1 races and started 3 of them.
5 Adolf Brudes – 52 years, 293 days – 1952 German Grand Prix
Adolf Brudes was a conductor from Germany and a member of the German nobility.
He started racing motorcycles in 1919 and owned a BMW and Auto Union dealership in Breslau.
His racing career began in earnest in 1928, initially in hill-climbing events. After World War II, he returned to racing and continued hill climbing until 1968, meaning his career as a driver and cyclist spanned almost 50 years.
He entered a World Championship Grand Prix, the 1952 German GP, but scored no championship points.
He also participated in several non-championship Formula One races.
4 Luigi Fagioli – 53 years, 22 days – 1951 French Grand Prix
Luigi Fagioli, an Italian racing driver, earned his place in Formula 1 history as the fourth-oldest driver.
In 1951, at the age of 53, Fagioli competed in the French Grand Prix, which he won. Fagioli’s Formula 1 career was relatively short, but his motorsport experience was extensive. He raced in the early years of Formula 1 and, before that, had significant success in Grand Prix racing in the 1930s.
He took only one win in one race, but that win makes him the oldest F1 race winner in history, and he is also the only race winner to be born in the 19th century, something that will never be surpassed now!
He also scored six podium finishes in his F1 career, meaning he was never outside the top three, having only started seven races in total.
3 Arthur Legat – 54 years, 232 days – 1953 Belgian Grand Prix
Arthur Legat was a Belgian racing driver. He entered two Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, making his debut on June 22, 1952, but scored no championship points and retired at his last race, the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix.
2 Philippe Étancelin – 55 years, 191 days – 1952 French Grand Prix
Philippe Étancelin, a French driver, achieved his place as the second-oldest driver in Formula 1 history at the 1952 French Grand Prix.
Étancelin took part in his last Formula 1 race at the remarkable age of 55. Étancelin had a career that spanned from the 1920s to the 1950s, and his accomplishments include victories at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as countless major Grand Prix victories prior to World War II.
Étancelin displayed an unwavering love of racing.
1 Louis Chiron – 55 years, 292 days – 1955 Monaco Grand Prix
Born on August 3, 1899 in Monaco, Louis Chiron has the honor of being the oldest driver to start a Formula 1 career.
His remarkable achievement came at the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix, where he finished sixth. Chiron had a long and successful motorsport career, spanning several decades, and was seen as one of the best drivers of the interwar years.
He participated in a total of 15 Formula 1 races, achieving a best result of third place at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. His passion for racing did not abate even until he was 50 years old, making him an icon of longevity. on the sport.
In fact, his name graces the mighty supercar, the Bugatti Chiron, which is a fitting tribute to the man.
The oldest world champion in F1
Juan Manuel Fangio, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 history, might not be on this particular list, but he accomplished a remarkable feat that deserves a mention by becoming the oldest Formula 1 World Champion. . Fangio achieved his fifth and final championship title at the age of 46 during the 1957 season.
Fangio’s record-breaking achievement is even more impressive when you consider the era in which he competed. The 1950s saw a significantly higher level of danger and physical demands in the sport compared to modern times. Fangio’s triumphs were a testament to his exceptional skill, determination and adaptability.
In the 1957 season, Fangio raced for the Maserati team, fighting against formidable competitors such as Stirling Moss and Luigi Musso. Despite facing fierce competition, Fangio’s consistency and tactical brilliance proved instrumental in securing the championship. He won four of the eight races he entered that year.
What makes Fangio’s achievement all the more remarkable is the fact that he did it in an era when driver safety measures were far from advanced. The cars were less reliable, the tracks treacherous and the margin for error minuscule. Fangio’s mental toughness, exceptional car control and ability to extract maximum performance from his machinery set him apart from his contemporaries.
Fangio’s record as the oldest world champion remains intact to this day and may never be surpassed. He is the second-oldest driver to have won the title as well at the age of 45, and his other three title victories also came as a 40-year-old, only Giuseppe Farina, F1’s first world champion in 1950, comes close with him winning the title at the age of 44.
In terms of more contemporary names, Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost won their last championships at the age of 39 and 38 respectively, while Michael Schumacher was 35 when he won his seventh world championship in 2004.
Lewis Hamilton was also 35 when he won his seventh world title in 2020, and is obviously looking to try and win an eighth before leaving the sport.
History suggests, then, that a 40-year-old modern world champion is unlikely, but, with the science of nutrition and sport getting better and better, and the likes of Hamilton and Alonso showing what is possible once again as an older driver i.e. we will be no more 40 year old world champions and race winners at least in the future.