David Coulthard has examined why Fernando Alonso is performing better in his 40s than Michael Schumacher did in F1.
Alonso has been one of the stars of the season so far in 2023 with him scoring four podiums in the first five races for an Aston Martin team that has made some incredible progress in recent months.
Indeed, he is driving arguably as well as he ever has and this comes with him just a couple of months shy of his 42nd birthday.
He is showing that age really is just a number when it comes to racing in modern F1 and the likes of Kimi Raikkonen was also another example of that with him racing into his 40s for Alfa Romeo.
It’s something we might see more and more of in modern F1 as nutrition and sports science gets better and better, especially if the drivers stay in the sport throughout their 30s and remain in a strict regime of fitness and the rhythm of racing.
Michael Schumacher, of course, drove in F1 in his 40s but had a few years away from racing before his comeback and his results were not quite up to where he wanted them to be.
Had he been in F1, or another category, between his exit at the end of 2006 and comeback at the start of 2010, though, he may well have been able to produce similar displays to how Alonso is now.
Clearly, that is what Coulthard thinks with him telling the Formula For Success podcast:
“When Alonso stepped away from F1 the first time, he went straight into sports cars, IndyCar, he did the Dakar, he’s got a kart track and you see him out testing his karts at his facility in Spain.
“There’s the expression, ‘don’t let the old man in.’ If you let the old man or the old woman in, that, ultimately, is what you end up becoming.
“I think, in comparison to Michael, who stopped and was no longer racing, then went and played on motorbikes and then had a crash and broke a vertebra and then came back to F1 three years after he’d originally stopped, he could still do go through the motions and was still an incredible individual, but just wasn’t as good as he had been before.
“I think it was that uninterrupted nature of Fernando’s time away from F1, as we saw with Kimi Raikkonen [in 2010 and 2011] as well – he went away rallying.”