With Fernando Alonso still going very strong over 40, Nico Rosberg used that as inspiration to discuss his time as team-mate to Michael Schumacher when he returned to F1.
Schumacher initially called time on his legendary Formula 1 career after the 2006 campaign, by which point he had broken a plethora of records with the jewel in the crown being his status as a seven-time World Champion.
But after a Ferrari return in 2009 to cover for the injured Felipe Massa was thwarted for Schumacher by a neck injury, the German racer secured a return to Formula 1 for 2010 as he and Nico Rosberg became team-mates at the new Mercedes team.
Schumacher’s return lasted three seasons, though did not feature anything like the success of his past, with a P3 finish at the 2012 European Grand Prix and setting the fastest qualifying lap in Monaco that year serving as the highlights. Having turned 41 in his first Mercedes season, he bowed out at the age of 43.
And now Alonso, who ended Schumacher’s run of dominance in the Ferrari days by winning the 2005 World title, also now finds himself competing in Formula 1 at the age of 41. Though rather than looking like an iconic figure past his prime, Alonso since returning in 2021 with Alpine has looked as strong as he ever has.
Now at Aston Martin, Alonso has scored five podium finishes across the opening seven rounds of F1 2023 and is chasing that elusive 33rd career victory, prompting Rosberg to take a trip down memory lane to his time with Schumacher, where he said a struggle to adapt to the new machinery was a major sticking point, especially the Drag Reduction System.
“I really like the story of Alonso’s return,” Rosberg told Sky. “He’s aiming for his 33rd win, he’s one of the greatest of all time.
“He’s about to turn 42 and I know what that means because Michael Schumacher was my team-mate when he was over 40.
“I remember Michael was still very quick on a lap and even in the race, but he just had a bit more trouble adapting.
“For example, DRS was new to him at that time and he sometimes forgot that you go faster with DRS, or he forgot to switch it off again and that led to some violent bumps. Sometimes he just lacked a bit of adaptation.
“With all due respect to Alonso, he’s almost 42 years old, the level he’s driving at is epic, and I think we’d all be very happy if he gets his 33rd win.”
His next opportunity to end that decade-plus wait for a fresh F1 victory will come at the Canadian Grand Prix, where Alonso has teased upgrades which will allow Aston Martin to “crush” their rivals, after Mercedes seemingly snatched the ‘best-of-the-rest’ status from Alonso’s team with their B-Spec W14.
Red Bull continue to enjoy life completely out of reach, having claimed a perfect seven wins from seven so far in F1 2023.