Formula 1 Veterans: Championship at 46 Years Old!

  • Juan Manuel Fangio won his last championship title at the age of 46.
  • A racer's story: Graham Hill and his Triple Crown.
  • Nigel Mansell, the "British lion" in Formula 1 races, is a true winner in motorsport. 
  • Alain Prost is one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1. 
Formula 1 Veterans
Image source: Matthias v.d. Elbe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the main event of the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix was the long-awaited podium of Fernando Alonso. In general, at the beginning of this year, many doubted that the next alliance of the Spaniard with the Renault concern was a good idea. However, as we can see, Fernando managed to beautifully answer the skeptics. In honor of the recent feat of Alonso, we suggest remembering other Formula 1 veterans who managed to shine despite their venerable age.

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Formula 1 Veterans: Maestro Juan Manuel Fangio – 46 Years Old

As you know, in the first seasons of Formula 1, the average age of the peloton was significantly higher than today. Driving at 40 or even 50 years old for those times was quite commonplace. Therefore all records that begin with the words “oldest” come from that era. The most important of these achievements belong to the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio. It is the Argentine who to this day remains the oldest champion in the history of F1. He completed his fifth championship at the age of 46.

Of course, the Argentinean was not considered a super veteran in the early seasons of Racing Royal (at the time of his debut he was 39 years old), especially being in the company of such pilots as Giuseppe Farina and Luigi Fagioli. But by the end of his formula career, Fangio was almost the most experienced rider in the peloton.

So, in 1957, the Argentine had to fight for the title with pilots who were much younger than him. Compared to Stirling Moss (28), Luigi Musso (33), and Tony Brooks (25), 46-year-old Fangio looked like an incredibly mature pilot. To some extent, we can say that it was a battle of generations. In the 1957 season, returning to Maserati, Fangio left no chances for his rivals. In six of the seven races of the season, Juan Manuel did not finish below second place. Thus, in the battle of experience and youth, experience gained the upper hand. For the Argentine, this title was the fifth, and the season spent in F1, the penultimate. Next year he will spend two more races in Formula 1 and say goodbye to the world of high speeds forever.

Triple Crown: Graham Hill – 39 Years Old

By 1968, Graham Hill had already taken the F1 title, became vice-champion three times, and won the legendary Indy 500 race. In short, the Briton’s career was going just fine. As the online sportsbook news in France claims, in 1968, 39-year-old Hill took part in the championship battle for the last time. According to the preseason layouts, Graham had to fight for the title with his teammate – the brilliant Jim Clark.

Formula 1 Veterans
Graham Hill in ’71 – Image source: Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alas, in April 1968, Clarke, while participating in a Formula 2 race, got into a fatal accident for him. So Hill had to single-handedly defend the honor of “Lotus” in the F1 championship. Again, as with Fangio, Hill was significantly older than his main pursuers. Jackie Stewart was only 29 that season, and Jacqui Ickx was 23 at all. The younger generation fluttered the nerves of the eminent veteran right up to the last race of the season. Before the final stage, Stewart was only 3 points behind Hill. And yet the Lotus driver won the final Grand Prix in Mexico and became a two-time Formula 1 champion.

Next year he will lose the intra-team duel to the young Jochen Rindt. And a season later he will leave Lotus altogether. This is where Hill’s victorious stride in F1 will end. But in 1972 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and became the owner of the so-called triple gold crown. Except for Graham Hill, no other pilot in the world can boast of such an achievement. 

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Formula 1 Veterans: Nigel Mansell – 39 Years Old

Mansell could become a world champion at the age of 33. Throughout 1986, he fought desperately for the title with his Williams team-mate Nelson Piquet. For most of the championship, the Briton led the individual classification and was generally considered the favorite. But in the final race of the season, a blown tire buried Mansell’s title chances. In the end, Alain Prost became the champion, who was able to perfectly take advantage of Williams’ intra-team squabbles. The following year, Nigel lost the championship battle again – this time to Piquet. And the next chance to fight for the title of Mansella fell at the end of his formula career.

On the eve of the 1992 season, Williams could safely be called to a team of Formula 1 veterans, because in August of that year, Nigel was supposed to turn 39 years old, and Riccardo Patrese was only a year younger than his colleague. In 1992, the age tandem was incredibly lucky to have one of the most dominant race cars in F1 history at their disposal. In the first 10 races, Mansell, who had adapted well to the work of the active suspension, won eight victories and, in fact, closed the question of the winner of the season.

Formula 1 Veterans
Nigel Mansell in 1990 – Image source: Stuart Seeger from College Station, Texas, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After the triumphant 1992, the Briton suddenly did not need “Williams”, after which he decided to go overseas. On the first try, he became the champion of the CART series. And a year later he returned to Sir Frank’s team for the last three races of the season, the last of which – after the legendary accident of Schumacher with Hill – he won altogether. At that time, Nigel was already in his fifties! Over the past 50 years in Formula 1, no one has won at a more respectable age.

Formula 1 Veterans: “Professor” Alain Prost – 38 Years Old

From the 1992 season, we are smoothly moving on to the 1993 season. By that time, Alain Prost had already become a three-time world champion, left McLaren with a scandal, and also quarreled with Ferrari. Not agreeing to participate in the ambitious project Ligier, where he was offered the role of co-owner of the team, Prost allowed himself a year break in his career, after which he accepted the offer from Frank Williams.

So, being already one of the most experienced riders in the peloton, Alain set off on his last campaign for the champion crown. Like last year, Williams again had the most efficient vehicle. Senna, of course, tried to impose the fight on his sworn friend. But competing with the FW15C car built by Patrick Head and Adrian Newey was simply unrealistic. Of the 16 qualifications of that season, only three Prost could not win the pole, although twice the first line of the starting field was taken by his team-mate Damon Hill.

With seven victories, the French pilot secured his fourth league title two stages before the end of the season. At this, Prost decides that it is enough for him, and ends his formula career. Four years later, he will return to F1, only this time as the owner of the team of the same name. But that’s a completely different story.

So now you know these 5 Formula 1 veterans and their incredible stories. You can always bet on F1 on Bet 365 Sportsbook, along with the other online sportsbook sites in France.

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