How Old Are All The F1 Drivers? (Full List)

With the physical demands of Formula 1 becoming heavier each year, the need for high-performing athletes to drive the cars is very strong. With so many young faces currently on the grid, it can leave many wondering exactly how old all the F1 drivers really are. 

Driver TeamBornAgeAge at F1 debut
Fernando AlonsoAlpine29 July 19814119
Lewis HamiltonMercedes07 January 19853822
Sebastian VettelAston Martin03 July 19873519
Nico HulkenbergHaas19 August 19873522
Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo28 August 19893324
Sergio PerezRed Bull26 January 19903321
Kevin MagnussenHaas05 October 19923021
Carlos SainzFerrari01 September 19942820
Nyck de VriesAlpha Tauri06 February 19952828
Pierre GaslyAlpha Tauri07 February 19962721
Alexander AlbonWilliams23 March 19962622
Esteban OconAlpine17 September 19962620
Max VerstappenRed Bull30 September 19972517
Charles LeclercFerrari16 October 19972520
George RussellMercedes15 February 19982521
Lance StrollAston Martin29 October 19982418
Ghuanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo30 May 19992322
Lando NorrisMcLaren13 November 19992319
Yuki TsunodaAlpha Tauri11 May 20002220
Logan SargeantWilliams31 December 20002222
Oscar PiastriMcLaren06 April 20012121

F1 hasn’t always been a young man’s game. The first season of Formula 1 in 1950 had an average age of 52, which is inconceivable in modern times. In this article we will discuss the need for youth in F1, as well as list some of the youngest and oldest drivers to have success within the sport.

Why Are F1 Drivers So Young?

F1 drivers are normally young for many reasons, including the high stress and strains that being an F1 driver puts on your body. The drivers are highly trained athletes and need their bodies to be at their very peak in order to succeed. Therefore, it is rare to see modern drivers over the age of 40.

KEY FACT: The average age of the current F1 grid is about 28

An athlete’s peak physical age will be during their mid 20s to their early 30s. This will be the age range where their bodies can use oxygen most efficiently, allowing them to push harder and recover faster. This output will give them the edge over older drivers who will require more time to get back to their best after a race and won’t be able to sustain their physical output for quite as long.

As well as high levels of physical prowess, drivers will also need their cognitive abilities to be sharp, otherwise they will be putting themselves and others at risk. Reflexes, vision, and intelligent decision making are all vital when driving a Formula 1 car. It is natural for vision to start deteriorating when you hit the age of 40, and to experience a slowing in your reflexes.

Awareness Of Mortality

As you get older, you become more aware of the dangers involved in being an F1 racer. The youthful feeling of invincibility will begin to wane, and aggressive driving will begin to feel more and more difficult to pull off. Many drivers won’t want to be seeing themselves drop down the rankings because of this, leaving them with a perfectly honorable reason to retire.

There is also the matter of family that can come into a driver’s mind, as they may question why they are putting themselves at risk when they have a settled family dynamic, and often a healthy bank account to support themselves. This leads to another reason drivers may end their careers young, which is the development of other personal interests. 

As drivers grow older, they often dip their toes into other business ventures and passions outside of racing, whether it be setting up their own companies, doing media work, or just finding new hobbies. As a young driver, your desire will often purely be purely focused on retaining your seat and putting in the best performances you possibly can.

Teams Prefer Younger Drivers

Above all else, teams will often prefer younger drivers to older drivers for a variety of reasons. Younger drivers can be signed on long-term contracts, allowing the team to build around them, offering stability. Teams will also be able to mold a young driver the way they want, instilling the DNA and desired style of the team into them early on. 

Teams know that young drivers have very little to lose and will want to seize every opportunity they can get. This will mean that they will push for that extra tenth of a second, and hopefully get the maximum out of the car.

Younger drivers will also help teams on the commercial front, whether it be by selling merchandise to adoring young fans or using their youthful charm for promotional videos and online content. Young drivers are their own brand nowadays, with savvy social media presences capable of connecting their team with the new generation of F1 fans.

KEY POINTS

• The majority of the current F1 grid is under 30 years old

• F1 drivers need to be fit both mentally and physically

• This makes younger drivers a more attractive option for F1 teams

Who Is The Youngest F1 Driver On The Grid?

The youngest driver on the 2022 grid is 21-year-old McLaren driver Oscar Piastri. He is one of the youngest drivers the sport has seen in recent years, and he came into the sport off the back of winning the F2 and F3 championships, both in his respective rookie seasons.

The youngest driver to ever race in Formula 1 was Max Verstappen, who made his debut at the tender age of 17 years and 166 days old. He was racing at the pinnacle of motorsport before he had even attained his standard road driving license. He will never lose this record, as a year after he made his first start, the FIA changed the rules to only allow those over 18 to have an F1 Super License.

Who Is The Oldest F1 Driver On The Grid?

The oldest F1 driver on the grid is 41-year-old Fernando Alonso, the only current driver in his 40s. Alonso’s career in F1 has spanned over two decades, making his first start in 2001 as a 19-year-old. He has now made over 350 starts, making him the most experienced driver ever.

The 5 Youngest F1 Drivers To Win A Race

The 5 youngest F1 drivers to win a race are:

  1. Max Verstappen
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Charles Leclerc
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Bruce McLaren

1. Max Verstappen 

Age: 18 years, 228 days

Max Verstappen was just 18 years old when he won his first race at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Coincidentally, the race he won was his very first as a Red Bull driver, having been called up by Red Bull principal Christian Horner to replace Daniil Kvyat just a few days earlier. His rise to the top of F1 had been predicted, as he was the youngest to ever drive in F1 and the youngest points scorer.

However, not many would have predicted it to come so soon, especially on his debut race for Red Bull. It was a performance of a driver well beyond his years, capitalizing on the two Mercedes drivers colliding and crashing out of the race. With the changes to the F1 Super License rules that mean nobody under 18 can race in F1, this record may never be broken.

2. Sebastian Vettel

Age: 21 years, 73 days

Another driver to achieve their first victory under the Red Bull umbrella was Sebastian Vettel at Monza in 2008. However, Vettel won when driving for Red Bull’s second team, then known as Toro Rosso. The victory, as you can imagine, was highly unexpected, but it put Vettel’s name on the F1 map for the first time. 

Vettel qualified for the race in pole position, which was also unexpected. The conditions on race day were awful, with multiple cars crashing out behind the young German. This meant that he just needed to keep his concentration to seal the win. That he did, becoming the youngest ever driver at the time to win a Formula 1 race.

3. Charles Leclerc

Age: 21 years, 320 days

Charles Leclerc’s first win in F1 at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2019 came just a day after one of his closest friends Anthoine Hubert had been killed in an F2 race at the same track. This made the victory one of the most sentimental in F1 history, especially when he dedicated the win to Hubert over the radio as he crossed the line. 

Leclerc produced a confident drive to take the victory, with most of the battling taking place between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton behind him. The Monegasque driver would then announce his potential to the F1 world by taking the victory at Monza in the following race. 

4. Fernando Alonso

Age: 22 years, 26 days

To fully put it into context how long Fernando Alonso has been involved in F1, his first ever victory came just over two years after his debut, at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2003. The victory was almost flawless, as Alonso seemed uncatchable from the very start of the race. He even managed to lap Michael Schumacher before crossing the finish line for his maiden victory.

5. Bruce McLaren

Age: 22 years, 104 days

Bruce McLaren, who would go on to be the founder of one of the most famous F1 teams of all time, won his first race in the sport in 1959 at the US Grand Prix. McLaren had qualified in 10th, but with race favorite Stirling Moss not able to finish the race and Jack Brabham experiencing car issues, McLaren eventually found himself in the lead to take the victory. 

An honorable mention is Troy Ruttman, who won the 1952 Indianapolis 500 at the age of 22 years and 80 days. The F1 calendar was not as tightly scheduled as it is now, with the Indy 500, among other events, also counting as part of the F1 Championship. As Ruttman was an IndyCar driver rather than a full-time F1 driver, Bruce McLaren pips him to 5th place in the youngest F1 drivers to win a race.

The Youngest F1 World Champion

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 World Champion in 2010 after winning the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi. He was 23 years and 133 days old when he beat the record previously set by Lewis Hamilton in 2008. It was the start of a period of domination for Vettel, as he would go on to win the next three World Championships in a truly unstoppable Red Bull car. 

The 5 Oldest F1 Drivers To Win A Race

The 5 oldest F1 drivers to win a race are:

  1. Luigi Fagioli
  2. Giuseppe Farina 
  3. Juan Manuel Fangio
  4. Piero Taruffi
  5. Jack Brabham

1. Luigi Fagioli

Age: 53 years, 22 days

Luigi Fagioli set the now unimaginable record of winning a Grand Prix in his 50s at the 1951 French Grand Prix. It is a slightly contentious record, as he didn’t end up crossing the line in first place. Midway during the race, Fagioli was asked by his Alfa Romeo team to swap cars with favored teammate Juan Manuel Fangio after he had experienced mechanical troubles.

Reluctantly, he did, and Fangio went on to win the race in Fagioli’s car, meaning the victory was shared between the two drivers. Fagioli’s anger at the team’s decision meant he quit Formula 1 racing on the spot, never to race in the discipline again.

2. Giuseppe Farina

Age: 46 years, 276 days

Giuseppe Farina won the 1953 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife. Such was the difference between F1 in the 1950s and F1 now, 34 cars started the race, with 19 of them not making it to the end. Farina qualified for the race in third, but ended up finishing it in first, a minute ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio. It was Farina’s last Grand Prix victory.

3. Juan Manuel Fangio

Age: 46 years, 41 days

Juan Manuel Fangio’s victory at the 1957 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring Nordschleife is considered by many to be the greatest race win of all time. After a disastrous pit stop, where the team were searching for half a minute for a wheel nut that had dropped underneath the car, Fangio left the pits in third place with 10 laps to go, 48 seconds behind the second-place car.

Fangio would go on to break the track’s lap record a total of nine times before the end of the race with an unprecedented show of speed and technique. Late on in the penultimate lap, Fangio took the lead of the race, winning it by just over three seconds.

4. Piero Taruffi

Age: 45 years, 219 days

Piero Taruffi’s only Grand Prix victory came at the 1952 Swiss GP, in his Ferrari car. Taruffi had qualified in second place behind his teammate Giuseppe Farina. However, due to technical issues, Farina’s car had to be retired, leaving Taruffi with the lead. By the end of the race, Taruffi had lapped everyone on the track apart from second-place driver Rudi Fischer. 

5. Jack Brabham

Age: 43 years, 339 days

The final victory in Jack Brabham’s glittering career came at the 1970 South African Grand Prix. The 1970 season was to be the last that Formula 1 saw of Jack Brabham as a driver, although not the last time that the Brabham name was used in Formula 1. His eponymous team carried on in the sport until 1992.

The Oldest F1 World Champion

The oldest ever F1 World Champion was Formula 1 legend, Juan Manuel Fangio. At the age of 46 years and 41 days old, he lifted his fifth World Championship at the 1957 Monza Grand Prix after mathematically securing it two races before. It was his fourth consecutive World Championship title. He would retire only a year later, leaving behind a very strong legacy. 

Final Thoughts

The difference in ages in F1 is vast when you compare the early era of the 1950s to the current era, with advances in speed and technology requiring younger, more athletic bodies to participate. The grid’s average age of just under 28-years-old is also very likely to get younger in the coming years, with younger drivers entering the sport with each passing year.

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