F1: At what age are F1 drivers washed up?
–by Mark Cipolloni–
Whereas IndyCar and NASCAR drivers can win races well into their 40s, in the pinnacle of motorsports – Formula 1 – drivers age out much younger.
Once an F1 driver is washed up, if they still want to win races, they have to step down to IndyCar or sports cars.
Driving an IndyCar at 100% throttle around an oval does not require the reflexes that a F1 driver must have to win. The late Niki Lauda deemed IndyCar ‘Lazy Racing.’
Fact: Reflexes slow with age
Let’s look at some data to determine when an F1 driver is likely washed up.
Let’s Examine the Facts of some recent greats
The odds of winning in F1 dramatically drop once you ht 35 years of age.
Michael Schumacher: Michael Schumacher was 22 when he made his Spa debut in 1991, a year later at 23 won his first race there, and 25 when he took his first title. Michael was 27 years old when he moved to Ferrari to resurrect their team. He was 35 when he won his last title with Ferrari and 37 when he took his final win. Schumi made a winless come back at 41 with Mercedes and retired for good aged 43.
Fernando Alonso: Alonso was 20 when he made his F1 debut. He had just turned 22 when he won his first race, and 24 when he took his first title. He left a few years later and made his comeback at 38. But Fernando has not won since he was 31, as he approaches his 41st birthday.
Kimi Raikkonen: Kimi was 21 when he entered Formula 1, 23 years old when he won for the first time in Malaysia, and 28 when he took his title. He skipped three seasons and returned aged 33, won for the last time at 41 and stopped as he turned 43.
Sebastian Vettel: Vettel was not yet 20 when he made his Formula 1 debut, just 22 when he won his first Grand Prix, and 23 when he took his first title. Vettel was 26 when he took his last title, and just 32 when he won his last race. Seb retired at the end of last year at 35.
Lewis Hamilton: Lewis made his F1 debut at age 22, won his first race in the same year, and was World Champion for the first time at 23. He won his most recent title at 35 and was 36 when he last won a race. Lewis is now 38 years old.