Two years on the loss of some of the sport’s longest-serving drivers means the combined experience of the F1 field is at a nine-year low.
The last two seasons have seen the departures of Rubens Barrichello (F1’s most experienced driver ever with 322 starts), Jarno Trulli (252 starts) and Michael Schumacher (306 starts).
Meanwhile five new drivers will make their first Grand Prix starts next weekend: Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
The level of experience in the F1 field is trending upwards but there are periodic drops, of which this appears to be one. The greatest occured in the mid-nineties when several highly experienced drivers’ careers ended (mostly out of choice with one sad exception in the case of Ayrton Senna).
However this year’s grid has started more races on average than every other season prior to 2004 (pictured).
Drivers’ experience in round one
This chart shows how many drivers were on the grid for the first race of each season, and the average number of starts they had made in previous world championship races.
Of course what this doesn’t show us is how much testing mileage the drivers have covered, which is especially important for rookies. In the era of unrestricted testing it was not uncommon for new drivers to arrive in the sport having completed over 10,000km of running. Each of this year’s new drivers has less than that.
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Image © BMW ag