Alex Zanardi – Image source: [zep] / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons
Fernando Alonso will rejoin the Formula 1 field next season after a 2-year break. But Alonso is not the only F1 driver who decided to return back to racing. In the best F1 comebacks after retiring we listed the most famous and successful returns. With some drivers winning additional world titles after their returns, while others could only achieve smaller successes.
It’s not easy to get away from the world of Formula 1, especially if you have achieved great successes in the sport. We can find many examples of famous drivers returning back to F1 after retiring. The likes of Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, and Kimi Raikkonen all returned back after announcing their retirement. But drivers from earlier years couldn’t resist a second attempt for a good performance either.
List of best F1 comebacks after retiring
7. Nigell Mansell
The British driver spent 12 years in Formula 1 and retired in 1992, after winning his only world championship title with Williams. Then he was racing in the IndyCar series which he won on his first attempt. But in 1994, following the tragic death of Ayrton Senna, Mansell returned back to Williams team. He was driving in the last three races of the season as a teammate of Damon Hill, who was much faster than the 41-year old Mansell. But he still managed to win the last race in Australia after Hill and Schumacher collided. He lost his seat in the next season so he joined Mclaren. But this wasn’t a successful step and he left the team after racing only twice with the car.
6. Alex Zanardi
The Italian driver raced in several different motorsports, including Formula 1 between 1991 and 1994. Though his best result was only a 6th-place with Lotus, he still made an impact in the sport. Zanardi achieved his best results in the CART series where he won the championship in 1997 and 1998. But he also returned back to F1 in 1999 driving for Williams, but his season was full of technical failures and other accidents. He ended his contract and chose to race again CART where he suffered a very serious accident. Zanardi lost both of his legs but amazingly he returned back again to racing and even winning in the European Touring Car Championship as online sportsbook news in Italy were reporting. He suffered another accident this year, we could only hope he will come back from it again.
5. Felipe Massa
The Brazilian driver joined Formula 1 in 2002 and spent there 15 years driving for Sauber, Ferrari, and Williams. He won 11 Grand-Prix, got 41 podium finishes and he was the runner-up in the 2008 season behind teammate Michael Schumacher. He joined Williams in 2014 after Kimi Raikkonen was signed for his place at Ferrari. Of course, he couldn’t repeat his previous results at his new team, but he still was a great and one of the most popular drivers in 2016 when he announced his retirement. But after Nico Rosberg’s same sudden decision Williams needed Massa to replace Valteri Bottas who moved to Mercedes. So he stayed one more season at the team and scored 43 points for them. At the end of 2017, he really retired, now Massa is racing in the Formula-E.
4. Kimi Raikkonen
The “Iceman” who is the 2007 World Champion left the sport in 2009 and moved to the world of rally. He had some good results like finishing 5th in the Rally of Turkey and winning a stage. But after two seasons he returned back to Formula 1 after signing a contract with Lotus. Raikkonen finished 3rd in the 2012 season after winning one race and getting 7 additional podium finishes. The following year was less successful so he joined Ferrari again in 204 and stayed there until 2018. In his last season, he was 3rd again in the world championship behind Hamilton and teammate Sebastian Vettel. Kimi is still racing, now as a driver of Alfa Romeo. With a very little chance to be able to repeat his previous results with them.
3. Michael Schumacher
One of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher won 7 world championship titles, 2 with Benetton and 5 with Ferrari. He retired at the age of 38 in 2007 and stayed for the Italian team as a team advisor. He was also taking part in car development but couldn’t stay away from racing for long. Schumacher returned back to F1 in 2010 in the new Mercedes team. His routine and experience helped a lot to improve on the car and ground the basics of the team today. The German stayed there until the end of 2012, but sadly he couldn’t see the further successes of the team following his ski accident. Online gambling sites in Italy are predicting Mercedes’ victory again in this season’s constructors’ championship with no other teams able to compete with them.
2. Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda almost died during the 1976 season after his crash at Nuerburgring but miraculously he was back in his car only six weeks later and almost won the world championship that year. He retired in 1979 after two world titles in the middle of the Canadian Grand Prix after he had enough from the “silliness of driving around circles”. After he concentrated on his business at Lauda Air but returned back to Formula 1 in 1982 as a Mclaren pilot. Which were a great decision and one of the best F1 comebacks after retiring. As he could win his third world championship title in 1984, finishing half point ahead of his teammate, Alain Prost. In the following year, he could only finish three races and retired for good at the end of the season.
1. Alain Prost
The French Formula 1 driver is also considered one of the greatest of all time, following his 4 world championship titles. Prost fought big battles with Mansell, Senna and Nelson Piquet in the 1980s. He won his three titles in that decade with Mclaren. He joined Ferrari in 1990 where his second season was a disaster with Prost publicly criticising the team. His contract ended abruptly before the end of the season. What’s more, he even had to stay away from Formula 1 in the next season following restrictions by Ferrari. In 1993 Prost joined the Williams team and in a successful season, he won his fourth world title. But he couldn’t stay longer in the team following the signing of his old rival, Ayrton Senna. He still holds several records though in the sport. Like wins with the most different team and most wins at home Grand Prix.