Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Formula 1 used to be populated with drivers who continued with their teams until they were well into their fifties and sixties. It used to be a gentlemanís sport, from people who had the road and mechanical experience to make their rickety old machines work.
These days, itís all about youth and enthusiasm. The younger you are, the more amazing you are, the more statistics youíll break and the more sponsorship youíll get. In the past few years, itís been all about Fernando Alonso becoming the youngest world champion ever, and this season, itís Lewis Hamiltonís young age. The other extreme is David Coulthard, who is the oldest man on the grid Ė wait for it Ė in his 30s! Gasp!
You see, the thing is, F1 becomes more and more athletic each year. The drivers spend all their off time training and keeping in shape, so your age really does affect how you compare with others on the track. As long as you can stay fit, you can continue to drive, but presumably once you get to your late 30s, your days are numbered.
So what comes after racing? Michael Schumacher is the most recent retiree and he is currently assessing his options, and relaxing with his family. There are all good ideas, considering that he is rich enough to never have to work again.
Others go into commentating, like Martin Brundle, and Mark Blundell who cover the sport for ITV in the UK. They can throw a driverís perspective on the proceedings, and this can often make a very popular presenter. Current driver Anthony Davidson did a stint for BBC radio last year and was brilliant Ė so he has a potential career waiting for him. Jenson Button did some ITV coverage while the Honda was banned, and by the end of the race his throat was sore, so he might have to think again.
A lot of drivers continue to live on in the sport by coaching their offspring to the top ranks. Keke Rosberg is now in charge of his son Nicoís career, and theyíre both doing pretty well so far. And even if you donít have anyone to coach, your connections within teams can keep you busy. Gerhard Berger obviously loved F1 so much that he became a big cheese at Red Bull. Aguri Suzuki had his team named after him Ė Super Aguri. And of course, Jackie Stewart continues to be involved in Formula 1, going to events and keeping up the good name of the British Grand Prix.
With all this wealth of experience refusing to leave the sport, itís no wonder that Formula 1 is always on the up.