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F1 Longevity Debate Can Today's Youngsters Race Past 40

F1 Longevity Debate: Can Today’s Youngsters Race Past 40?

18/04/2024

As Fernando Alonso extends his F1 contract, questions linger about the longevity of current racing legends and their future in the sport.

At over 42 years old, Fernando Alonso has decided to extend his contract with Aston Martin F1—he has extended until the end of 2026, with the engine and chassis regulation changes in mind.

The Spaniard might have had an opportunity at Mercedes F1 or Red Bull, depending on the transfer season.

So why not wait instead? And above all, did he hesitate to stay in F1 until potentially his 44th year?

Fernando Alonso explained this morning: he strongly believes in the chances of Aston Martin F1 and Honda from 2026, with the new engine regulations.

As for Max Verstappen, he admires Fernando Alonso’s perseverance: the Dutchman is already unsure about staying in F1 beyond 2028.

So staying beyond 43 years… very unlikely for him?

“Fernando also took a step back and probably rediscovered his love for being fully competitive in Formula 1. So, it’s very difficult to comment on these kinds of things. I don’t think I will be here until the age of 45. But you never know.”

Did the Red Bull driver expect to be teammates with Fernando Alonso next year? Or was he surprised by his extension?

“No, but I also don’t have all the information. They [Aston Martin] have a good relationship with him. They know each other as well as anyone. And you don’t know what they talk about and what the perspectives within the team are. So, it’s always very difficult for me to comment on this. But it’s clear they are very ambitious. They want to win in F1. And Fernando believes in the project. So, it makes sense to extend.”

F1 Longevity Debate Can Today's Youngsters Race Past 40

Like Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris wants to commit long-term to his current team, McLaren F1.

But does he see himself in F1 in twenty years? And with McLaren? Or has he not yet thought about the long term?

“I better watch what I say. It takes a lot of dedication. I don’t think anyone thinks Fernando lacks it. He shows it in everything he does in life, both on the track and off it. So it depends on what you want to do. Everyone is different. It’s rare to see someone commit for so long in any sport; he’s probably one of the oldest men competing at the top of any sport in the world. Being able to do that at the level he has done and continues to do… you’ll probably never see it again. It’ll be extremely rare.”

“So yes, there’s a lot of respect. I have no idea if I want to do this in 20 years, if I’m still fit, but I love where I am now and keep doing this kind of thing. We’ll see.”

Charles Leclerc also finds it hard to know what he’ll do in 2040!

“Yes, it’s hard to imagine myself in Formula 1 in 15 or 18 years. But you can see Fernando is still motivated and still performing well, and that’s what matters in the end. Age is just a number, but what he shows on the track is still at a very, very high level.”

“For my part, I’d like to race for many more years. However, I’m not sure if that will be in Formula 1. I’d like to try other experiences, like at Le Mans; I could see myself racing there one day. But yes, as long as I’m motivated, I’ll race, and I love what I do, so for now that’s what I want to do for as long as possible.”

Ocon and Zhou race with their idol Alonso

F1 Longevity Debate Can Today's Youngsters Race Past 40

Former teammate of Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, at Alpine, has seen all the care ‘Nando’ puts in to stay at the top level.

“Great respect for Fernando. Since I was little, I’ve watched him race against Michael, and you know, those two guys gave me the love of the sport. So it’s incredible to continue to race with Fernando today. And to see the career he’s led… he’s won everywhere. He won in karting, he won at Le Mans, in sports cars in the United States, almost everything he’s done, he’s won. It’s more than remarkable. And it’s a dream career for any athlete or race driver.”

“So yes, I don’t know if I’d still be racing at his age. But really, his dedication is an example for all of us.”

A big fan of Fernando Alonso, Guanyu Zhou is already aiming to be in F1… next year! It’s still far from assured for him.

“Yes, as far as I’m concerned, Fernando has had an incredible journey. And, of course, it’s much easier said than done. I’d love to race in Formula 1 for many more years, that’s for sure. It’s what I’m most passionate about. And from my side, of course, back then, he was somewhat the role model I was looking for and it’s great to see him still performing at a very high level. I hope we can soon fight for some positions on the track and have fun.”

F1 Longevity Debate Can Today's Youngsters Race Past 40

F1 Longevity Debate: Can Today’s Youngsters Race Past 40?. F1 Longevity Debate: Can Today’s Youngsters Race Past 40?. f1 2024 F1 Longevity Debate: Can Today’s Youngsters Race Past 40?

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