Most sports are dominated by an ever-changing cast of young talent that replace aging legends at the peak and dominant force in the sport. However, sometimes youth is no substitute for experience in the same way the betting odds World Series picks are more successful when you know the sport and have the experience to make the right picks at the right time.
While Formula One and sports, in general, will always be a young person’s world to dominate, sometimes experience and skill can overcome age. In this article, we’ll review some of the older Formula One drivers in history to compete and succeed at the pinnacle of motorsports.
The Old Guys Getting Race Wins
We have to take a trip to a very different Formula One and the broader world in general to find the oldest Grand Prix winner in Formula One history.
At an age where people are less concerned with going fast and more concerned with retirement in the modern world, Luigi Fagioli is the oldest driver on record to win a Formula One race, winning the 1951 French Grand Prix at the age of 53 years, 22 years old. Yes, in a sport where youthful skill and courage are highly desired and promoted, a grandfather holds the record for the oldest race winner in Formula One history.
Fagioli’s record is likely to remain intact for a very long time. That is unless the Wiley ‘Ol Campaigner Fernando Alonso continues to compete in Formula One for another decade and remains competitive near the front of the grid.
In fact, the five oldest Formula One Grand Prix winners all won these Grand Prix at older ages before 1970. But no driver in Formula One history besides Fagioli has won a Grand Prix over the age of fifty. This record is likely to stand for many decades to come.
Giuseppe Farina won the 1953 German Grand Prix at 46 years and 276 days of age. Four-time World Champion and motorsports legend Juan Manuel Fangio claimed victory at the 1957 German Grand Prix at the age of 46 years, 41 days old. Piero Taruffi won the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix at the age of 45 years, 219 days, while Jack Brabham won the 1970 South African Grand Prix at 43 years, 339 days of age.
The Oldest Drivers To Secure Pole Position
Formula One cars are at their most explosive and awe-inspiring when they have as little feel as possible while trying to set the fastest lap times. Qualifying sessions for Formula One Grand Prix have become must-see for race fans, and in a sport where youth is favored, you often don’t see veterans amongst the drivers who have claimed pole position in a season.
These older drivers bucked that trend and showed the young drivers that the old guys could still hang in there are be competitive. However, we have to go back to a very different world to find the oldest driver to start a Grand Prix after qualifying in pole position.
Giuseppe Farina is the oldest driver to be the fastest qualifier for a Formula One race, claiming the honor at the 1954 Argentinian Grand Prix at the age of 47 years, two months, and 18 days old. During the 1958 World Championship, legend Juan Manuel Fangio claimed his last pole position at the 1958 Argentinian Grand Prix at 46 years, six months, and 26 days old. Jack Brabham claimed his final pole position shortly after his last race win in 1970, qualifying first for the Spanish Grand Prix at 44 years and seventeen days old.
A pair of former World Champions are the more familiar faces to modern Formula One fans who are amongst the oldest drivers to qualify first for a Grand Prix. American racing legend Mario Andretti qualified first for the 1982 Italian Grand Prix at 42 years, six months, and fifteen days old.
We move closer to the modern era with the fifth-oldest driver to claim pole position, Nigel Mansell qualifying first for the 1994 Australian Grand Prix at 41 years, three months, and five days old. The oldest active driver on the grid, record holder, and former two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso could change these rankings as he prepares to continue racing in Formula One into his mid-forties.