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IN NUMBERS: F1’s oldest drivers and Grand Prix winners as Alonso races through to his mid-40s with Aston Martin

Staff Writer

Mike Seymour
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Fernando Alonso recently committed to a fresh chapter in F1 with Aston Martin that means he will remain on the grid until he is at least 45, edging him further up the all-time list when it comes to the oldest drivers in the sport’s history. As the dust settles on the news, we dive into the history books and present some of the names who went even further…

Oldest drivers to start a race

5: Adolf Brudes – 52 years, 293 days – Germany 1952

Nobleman Brudes carved a reputation on the hillclimb scene through the 1920s and 1930s before branching out to sportscars and, eventually, F1, making his one-and-only appearance on home soil at the Nordschleife in 1952, where he qualified 19th and retired after five laps due to an engine problem.

READ MORE: Alonso on his new ‘lifetime’ Aston Martin deal, talks with rival teams and a Honda reunion

4: Luigi Fagioli – 53 years, 22 days – France 1951

After a successful Grand Prix career, and having battled through illness, Italian racer Fagioli claimed six podiums in seven F1 outings for Alfa Romeo across the early 1950s – including a shared victory with Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1951 French Grand Prix – only to lose his life the following year due to injuries sustained in a sportscar accident in Monaco.

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Fagioli started the 1951 French GP before handing over to Fangio (pictured), who had hit technical trouble

3: Arthur Legat – 54 years, 232 days – Belgium 1953

Legat got behind the wheel for two privateer F1 entries in 1952 and 1953 respectively, both at home track Spa-Francorchamps. He was one of 15 finishers on his first attempt, placing 13th in a race won by Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari, before logging a retirement next time out as he encountered transmission issues that prevented him from completing a lap.

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2: Philippe Etancelin – 55 years, 191 days – France 1952

Like Fagioli, Etancelin had built up plenty of pre-war Grand Prix experience – and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans – before sampling F1 when the World Championship began in 1950. He ultimately made 11 starts in Talbot-Lago machinery and one more in a Maserati, scoring a best result of fifth on two occasions during his debut season.

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Etancelin (right) celebrating a third-place finish in the 1938 International Tourist Trophy Race at Donington

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

Some seven decades before Charles Leclerc hit the scene, it was Chiron who flew the flag for the tiny Principality of Monaco. Having already taken an array of Grand Prix wins and podiums, he made his mark on F1 by placing an emotional third behind Ascari and Fangio at the 1950 Monte Carlo event – his second of 15 races in the category.

READ MORE: From backmarker brilliance to stand-in stars – 10 times F1 drivers put themselves in the shop window with stunning performances

Oldest drivers to win a race

5: Jack Brabham – 43 years, 339 days – South Africa 1970

The age bracket drops slightly when it comes to the oldest drivers to have won a race, with Brabham claiming the last of his 14 Grand Prix victories at South African venue Kyalami in 1970. Comparing then and now, the Australian three-time world champion was just over a year older than Alonso, who will turn 43 this summer.

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Chiron scored his best result at home in Monaco and waved the chequered flag there in the years to come

4: Piero Taruffi – 45 years, 219 days – Switzerland 1952

Taruffi represented Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes, Maserati and Vanwall in a varied F1 career that spanned the 1950s. He enjoyed the lion’s share of his success while racing for the Scuderia, earning his sole victory with the Italian marque – around several other podiums – in the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten.

READ MORE: 5 bold F1 driver moves that paid off – and 5 that didn’t – as Hamilton makes his Ferrari call

3: Juan Manuel Fangio – 46 years, 41 days – Germany 1957

Talking of different brands, Fangio racked up five titles with four manufacturers from 1951 to 1957, and it was during the latter year that he clinched his 24th and final win at the Nurburgring. Opting to complete a pit stop while Ferrari pair Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn stayed out, Fangio brilliantly charged his way past them for a famous triumph.

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Taruffi (left) celebrates a second-place finish at Silverstone in 1952 alongside race winner Ascari

2: Giuseppe Farina – 46 years, 276 days – Germany 1953

A few years earlier, ‘Nino’ Farina appeared on the top step of the podium for the last time at the same fearsome German venue. After four victories with Alfa Romeo, F1’s inaugural world champion added a fifth with Ferrari in the 1953 German Grand Prix, leading home the aforementioned Fangio and Hawthorn.

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1: Luigi Fagioli – 53 years, 22 days – France 1951

Fagioli appears in this feature for a second time courtesy of that part-drive to victory at Reims-Gueux in 1951, where he ticked off the opening 20 laps before handing over to team mate and title contender Fangio. At 53, he was some 10 years older than Alonso’s current age in an era where drivers often raced through their 40s and 50s.

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Farina revels in victory at the Nurburgring in 1953, taking his career tally to five
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