The youth of today

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Nino Farina was 43 when he won the first world championship Grand Prix, at Silverstone in 1950. It would take another 66 years and 2 days for a teenager to stand on the podium’s top step…

The sport’s dynamic has changed beyond recognition since the early days of the world championship for drivers, when neither corpulence nor seniority were barriers to success. Luigi Fagioli was 53 when he shared Juan Manuel Fangio’s winning Alfa Romeo in the 1951 French GP, Fangio 46 when he clinched his fifth and final title in 1957. But there was no high-level karting back then. Even into the 1970s drivers usually learned racecraft in Formula Ford, perhaps in their late teens, before progressing a step at a time towards F1. Reaching the top required several seasons of hard graft, the kind of experience modern drivers have accumulated long before they are permitted to drive legally on the road.

Max Verstappen is one such: karting prodigy at 15, F3 race winner at 16, F1 rookie at 17 and now a winner at the sport’s top table, aged 18 years and 228 days – the ultimate example of how Grand Prix racing success has become ever more the domain of the young.

Here’s how the records have tumbled over time.

Youngest champions

Emerson Fittipaldi

Age: 25 years and 273 days 

Year: 1972

Where: Monza, Italy

Emerson Fittipaldi’s victory in the 1970 US GP secured the world title for late team-mate Jochen Rindt, who became the sport’s first posthumous champion and also – at 28 – its youngest. Two years later, it was Fittipaldi who lowered that benchmark.

Fernando Alonso 

Age: 24 years, 58 days 

Year: 2005 

Where: Interlagos, Brazil

Already the youngest driver to have taken an F1 pole position and race victory, Alonso added the distinction of youngest champion when he ended Michael Schumacher’s five-year reign. Third place in Brazil was enough for the Spaniard to undercut Fittipaldi by 18 months.

Lewis Hamilton 

Age: 23 years, 301 days 

Year: 2008 

Where: Interlagos, Brazil

Having missed the title by one point in 2007, Hamilton made amends on a dramatic, showery day in Brazil. He finished only fifth, but that was enough to pip Felipe Massa to the crown… by one point. Fittipaldi’s status as youngest champion lasted 33 years, Alonso’s just three.

Sebastian Vettel

Age: 23 years, 133 days

Year: 2010

Where: Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

Hamilton’s record didn’t last long, either. Sebastian Vettel already had more than three full seasons of F1 under his belt by the time he secured his first title – and was still only 26 when he clinched his fourth, in 2013.

Counterpoint

Juan Manuel Fangio was 46 years and 41 days old when he guided his Maserati 250F to victory at the Nürburgring in ’57, one of his finest drives securing a fifth world title.

Youngest Grand Prix winners

Bruce McLaren 

Age: 22 years, 104 days 

Year: 1959

Where: Sebring, USA 

Mike Hawthorn had previously been the youngest GP winner (24 years and 86 days, France 1953) when McLaren triumphed by 0.6sec at Sebring, but Troy Ruttman (22 years and 80 days) remained the youngest winner of a race counting for the world championship, following his success in the 1952 Indy 500.

Fernando Alonso 

Age: 22 years, 26 days 

Year: 2003 

Where: Budapest, Hungary

After the first nine laps at Budapest, Alonso was so far ahead that he asked, “Where are the others?” Bruce McLaren’s record was finally beaten, by 78 days. Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya were second and third, the top three’s average age of 24 years and 7 months creating an F1 record that still stands. 

Sebastian Vettel 

Age: 21 years, 73 days 

Year: 2008

Where: Monza, Italy 

On a rainy afternoon, Vettel took Toro Rosso’s first F1 win. Mark Hughes wrote: “No driver made winning seem more straightforward than Alain Prost. If there is genius apparent in anyone who can make something very difficult appear effortless, Prost had it in spades. On this evidence Vettel has that same quality.”

Max Verstappen 

Age: 18 years, 228 days 

Year: 2016

Where: Barcelona, Spain

The ink is still fresh. With Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg in self-destruct mode on the opening lap, Verstappen became the beneficiary as Red Bull opted to split strategies – and drove beautifully under pressure to become the F1 world championship’s first winning teenager. And on his team debut, too.

Counterpoint

Luigi Fagioli is unlikely ever to be beaten as F1’s oldest race winner – he was 53 years and 22 days when he shared the victorious Alfa Romeo in the 1951 French GP.

Youngest pole qualifiers

Andrea de Cesaris

Age: 22 years, 308 days 

Year: 1982

Where: Long Beach, USA

The margin was just 0.012sec, but that was enough to give de Cesaris his sole pole in 208 GPs. The Italian led initially, but lost out to Niki Lauda in lapped traffic and later crashed while lying second. Previously, the youngest pole winner had been Jacky Ickx (23 years and 216 days, Germany 1968).

Rubens Barrichello

Age: 22 years, 97 days 

Year: 1994

Where: Spa, Belgium

The Ardennes weather was at its fickle best when Jordan took a punt on dry tyres late in first qualifying. “It’s far too early for slicks,” said multiple GP winner John Watson on Eurosport, but it took Barrichello 2min 21.163sec to prove otherwise. With Saturday’s second session washed out, pole was his. 

Fernando Alonso

Age: 21 years, 236 days 

Year: 2003

Where: Sepang, Malaysia

After a striking debut season with Minardi in 2001, Alonso spent 2002 on the sidelines, impatiently biding his time as Renault’s test driver. When finally promoted to the race team at Jenson Button’s expense, it took him just two races to set the first in what would be a string of ‘youngest’ records.

Sebastian Vettel

Age: 21 years, 72 days 

Year: 2008

Where: Monza, Italy

On a rain-affected day when some drivers made incorrect tyre calls, Vettel’s driving and decision-making were impeccable. It opened the door to a maiden GP success, after which the German was asked whether he’d just had the greatest day of his life. His reply? “You clearly weren’t there when I lost my virginity…”

Counterpoint

Nino Farina was 47 years and 79 days old when he stuck his Ferrari on pole for the 1954 Argentine GP. He would finish second to young upstart Fangio, then 43.

Youngest Grand Prix starters

Ricardo Rodriguez

Age: 19 years, 208 days 

Year: 1961

Where: Monza, Italy

The Mexican teenager was no stranger to the spotlight, having been a podium finisher at Le Mans in 1960, and it shone more brightly still when he qualified his Ferrari on the front row at Monza ahead of his GP debut. Fuel pump failure ended his weekend.

Mike Thackwell

Age: 19 years, 182 days 

Year: 1980

Where: Montréal, Canada

Some people still aren’t sure this counts, but he definitely took the first start. A pile-up then triggered a race stoppage, after which the young New Zealander ceded his Tyrrell to team-mate Jean-Pierre Jarier (whose own car had been damaged).

Jaime Alguersuari

Age: 19 years, 125 days 

Year: 2009

Where: Budapest, Hungary

Promoted mid-season to replace the harshly axed Sébastien Bourdais, then performed capably until himself being harshly axed at the end of 2011. By the time he was 25, he had announced that he was retiring from racing to focus on his other job, as a DJ.

Max Verstappen

Age: 17 years, 166 days 

Year: 2015

Where: Melbourne, Australia

Smashed the previous record by almost two years – and led governing body the FIA to impose a rule that no drivers under 18 would in future be granted the necessary F1 superlicence. Hasn’t done too badly since then, mind.

Counterpoint

Louis Chiron was 55 years and 292 days old when he started the 1955 Monaco GP, but failed to qualify for the same race three years later with his 59th birthday approaching.

You may also like

Related products