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Top five oldest drivers to race in Formula 1 (F1)

Published at :March 11, 2024 at 3:00 PM
Modified at :March 11, 2024 at 3:00 PM
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(Courtesy : Formula 1)

Rahul Saha

When you look at the physical demands of a modern Formula 1 driver, it’s quite rare for a driver to continue racing well beyond his 40s, a feat achieved only a few times in the recent past.

For a sport as demanding as Formula 1, it takes a lot out of a driver physically and mentally, which plays a part in most of them hanging up the gloves in their 30s. However, there have been instances where F1 drivers have competed well into their 50s and surpassed expectations.

On that note, let’s take a look at the five oldest drivers in F1 history:

5. Adolf Brudes – 52 years, 293 days – 1952 German Grand Prix

Adolf Brudes was a member of the German nobility and owned a BMW and Auto Union dealership in Breslau.

Brudes had an extensive racing career across the world but competed just once in Formula 1 during the 1952 German GP, where he failed to score any points.

Adolf Brudes was 52 years old when he raced in the 1952 German Grand Prix, and was racing for team Veritas. 

4. Luigi Fagioli: 53 years, 22 days – 1951 French Grand Prix

Nicknamed the “Abruzzi robber,” Luigi Fagioli had a pretty short stint at the pinnacle of motorsport but possessed vast experience in other racing categories.

Fagioli was notorious for his hair-trigger temper on the racetrack, often attempting daring, risky stunts that endangered his and his competitors’ lives. A lot of these stunts did result in dramatic collisions.

However, he became the fourth oldest driver and the oldest to win an F1 race at the 1951 French GP, aged 53. Fagioli is the oldest driver to win a race in Formula One, on top of being the only winner born in the 19th century. 

Fagioli died one year after his victory, at 54 years old, while practicing for the Monaco Grand Prix. What was thought to be a minor crash proved to be fatal when he sustained some internal injuries and passed away in a Monaco hospital three weeks later.

3. Arthur Legat: 54 years, 232 days – 1953 F1 Belgian Grand Prix

The Belgian racing driver participated in two Grand Prix events in the sport after debuting on June 22, 1952, but could not score any championship points and eventually retired at the Belgian GP the following year.

Arthur Legat was 54 years old when he raced in the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix for Team Veritas. Legat had to retire from the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix due to transmission trouble.

2. Philippe Etancelin: 55 years, 191 days – 1952 F1 French Grand Prix

Philippe Etancelin had a remarkable three-decade career in the motorsport world, racing from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The Frenchman competed in his last race, aged 55, at the 1952 French GP after claiming victories at Le Mans and many other races before the Second World War.

1. Louis Chiron: 55 years, 292 days – 1955 F1 Monaco GP

Born on August 3, 1899, in Monaco, Chiron became the oldest driver in F1 history to start a race after he participated in the 1955 Monaco GP, finishing sixth that evening. He competed in 15 races in the top tier of motorsport, achieving his best result with a third place at the same venue in 1950.

The iconic Monegasque driver is one of the most recognizable names in the automobile industry, as the Bugatti Chiron is named after him. He was also considered one of the greatest drivers of his time.

Without counting the races he started in, he is also the oldest driver to enter a race by taking part in a practice session at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix aged 58 years old.

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