F1 drivers Longevity


World Champion
it weirdly came to me today, why do we think drivers careers longevity is much longer today than it was in the earlier days of F1. because 6 of 8 drivers to have competed in the most seasons have all either competed fully or significant part of their career since the start of the millennium. & that 10 years in F1 doesnt seem to be big achievement it seemed to be. when Daniel Riccardo left after 12 seasons it seemed it was that he was still in middle of his career. despite being in F1 nearly as long as Prost or Berger. who certaintly the latter seemed to be a journeyman
  • do teams rely more on experience than youth these days
  • to contradict it slightly is it that the drivers are starting younger. so where 10 yrs used be mid 30s. people Lando & Verstappen would still be in their late 20s after 10 yrs
  • are the drivers fitter & its a knock on from how Schumacher transformed the sport. in the 90s
  • are these cars easier to drive. & the reason why Alonso, Kimi, Schumacher & probally Lewis are able to drive into their 40s
  • was there better quality in the lower formulaes or just because of more cars on the grid, more got a chance to show their quality & so more team changes
  • is drivers motivations different, that older drivers would rather drive a midfield backmarker F1 car. than in 90s where they went go to WEC or indycar & fight for victory .
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There are a number of reasons, one is that the age a driver was allowed to race a team car as opposed to private entry was 25, Jim Clark at 25 got an Aston Martin contract at 25, having been turned down before as too young, the second was that life expectancy was short most drivers having passed 30 reckoned they were pushing their luck and not having achieved WDC walked away to sports cars, very few to Indy where 40 year old drivers were common
Nowadays drivers start their junior careers often at 15 or 16 and of course that transfers to earlier F1 debuts as well.

I found a book on 1994 season. So I looked on at what age drivers were listed as their debut in cars, whether it is Formula Ford or some touring cars or something else.

I use July 1 as a cut-off for age, so using Hill and Senna who were both born in 1960. Hill had his first car races in 1985 and with his September birthday, that's 24. Senna was born in March so his debut in 1981 counts as 21.

Hill 24
Senna 21
Katayama 20
Blundell 18
Schumacher 19
Lehto 19
Verstappen 20
Häkkinen 18
Brundle 18
Fittipaldi 17
Morbidelli 19
Herbert 20
Lamy 17
Barrichello 17
Irvine 17
Beretta 19
Comas 20
Martini 20
Alboreto 19
Bernard 22
Panis 21
Alesi 19
Berger 21
Wendlinger 18
Frentzen 18
Brabham 20
Ratzenberger 22 (in the book 20 as at that point he was claiming to be born in 1962)
Belmondo 20
Gachot 21

Now 2023 grid:
Verstappen 16
Perez 14
Leclerc 16
Sainz 15
Hamilton 16
Russell 16
Gasly 15
Ocon 15
Norris 14
Piastri 15
Zhou 15
Bottas 17
Alonso 17
Stroll 15
Magnussen 15
Hülkenberg 17
de Vries 17
Tsunoda 16
Sargeant 15
Albon 16
Going back every 30 years will give a higher starting age unless daddy owned a garage or was a racer himself. WW increased the starting age, many of the 50's and 60's drivers were late starters national service saw to that in many countries in Europe.
great stats Bleu how times have changed from those in the 90s. because 14 of drivers wouldnt make it to F1 now. as if i see a 21yr old debutant now in F3 id think he was somekind of grandad.
I was watching Rush last night and seeing Hunt played by Chris Hemsworth - smoking, drinking , partying and shagging plenty of women . An F1driver certainly could not behave like that if they want to stay at the top so the application is more disciplined and corporate for sure.

Cars are easier to drive despite being heavier ... I still think give them the manual gearbox and clutch a lot of the inexperienced drivers will be found out more easily without the power steering

Also what we saw at the start of the millenium was the urge to bring in drivers that were younger in a race to unearth the next big talent after Schumacher which was led by Alonso and Raikkonen

It was the emergence of Hamilton that throwing them into a big team was sometimes worth the risk at an early age which is what happened with Vettel, Verstappen and Leclerc

Some drivers drive on for longer is probably the standards set to be world champions are higher now to aim for given 3 world titles would be considered enough in those days now the aim is to get 4 or 5 titles maybe.

Some of the drivers are able to hang around longer through reputation and association I am afraid as well
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