Age is
just a number...

Age is just a number - Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz can count many achievements throughout his illustrious World Rally Championship career, which dates back to 1987. There are two world titles of course (both won with Pirelli) in 1990 and 1992, but if he had to name one thing? “It’s that I’ve been consistently winning from start to finish,” he points out. “With just a few exceptions, I won a rally in every year that I was competing.”
Aged 57, he’s still competing now – while following his son’s successful Formula 1 career at the same time. In fact, Carlos won the epic Dakar Rally only last year. You might have thought that this would be the ideal time for him to hang up his helmet, but no – he continues.

Age is just a number - Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve isn’t old: he’s only 48, and with his blond-dyed hair, he still looks pretty similar to the fresh-faced Canadian who won the Formula 1 world title back in 1997. But Jacques started young, jumping into a kart for the first time in 1985, then winning the Indycar title just 10 years later. Formula 1 followed, which he competed in until 2006. Yet despite doing a TV commentary job for Sky in Formula 1 and running the Feed Racing School in France – equipped by Pirelli – he’s never stopped driving. The sheer multiplicity of series Villeneuve has taken part in is staggering: Le Mans, rallycross, Formula E, NASCAR, FIA GT, Stock Car Brasil, V8 supercars, and this year, Italian GT. We could go on…and Jacques shows no signs of stopping.

Age is just a number - Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

It sounds silly to call a 39-year-old a senior driver. But with his 40th birthday due in October 2019, Kimi Raikkonen is by some way the elder statesman of Formula 1 (Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton, next up, are both 34: five years his junior). Despite that, Raikkonen has done a long-term deal with Alfa Romeo Racing, which means that his contract won’t expire until the end of 2020, well into his fifth decade. There’s still plenty of success left in the Finn of course: the oldest driver to win a grand prix was Luigi Fagioli, who was 53 when he clinched the 1951 French Grand Prix.

Age is just a number - Gabriele Tarquini

Gabriele Tarquini

In 2018, Tarquini became the oldest driver to ever win an FIA world title when he claimed the World Touring Car Cup crown aged 56. It’s a record the Italian had already claimed when he won the first of his two World Touring Car titles nine years earlier, surpassing the achievement of Juan Manuel Fangio (who won the fifth of his Formula 1 titles at 46). Before becoming a legend in world touring cars – he’s also won British and European titles in the discipline – Tarquini spent several years in F1 with minnow teams, scoring just a single point and setting the record for the most failed attempts to qualify: an experience that might have put some off racing for life. Not our intrepid Italian hero though. 

Ken Smith

At 77, Smith is almost certainly the oldest active competitor in a junior single-seater series. He still regularly competes in the New Zealand Grand Prix, a race that he’s won three times before in three different decades (1976, 1990 and 2004). He made his first start in 1964, when the race was won by Bruce McLaren. Today, it’s part of the Toyota Racing Series, which puts Smith up against some of the best young drivers from around the world, most of them teenagers. Smith is a mentor to young Kiwi talent including this year’s Toyota Racing Series champion Liam Lawson, who now races with the Red Bull junior team in the Pirelli-supported FIA Formula 3 Championship.

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