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
- 100 F1 race winners: statistics
- Official: Michael Schumacher to return for Ferrari in the European Grand Prix
- Michael Schumacher’s F1 career in pictures
- Michael Schumacher’s F1 career in stats
- Michael Schumacher career retrospective
- Michael Schumacher’s last Grand Prix: Brazil 2006
- Debate: Which of Schumacher’s titles was the best?
- Michael Schumacher biography