‘Nothing against Fernando Alonso – but it can’t be the goal of F1 to get older and older’

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. F1 news

Fernando Alonso has been linked to multiple seats at the end of 2024.

Six-time F1 Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher wants to see young and talented drivers get more opportunities in Formula 1, saying with all due respect to Fernando Alonso, the series cannot look for an “older and older” grid. 

Drivers racing on for longer appears to be a growing trend in Formula 1, with Alonso still firing on all cylinders at Aston Martin in a season during which he will turn 43, while seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be 40 by the time he debuts for Ferrari in 2025.

Ralf Schumacher uneasy with Fernando Alonso-inspired F1 age trend

Alonso very much serves as Formula 1 proof that ‘age is just a number’, a phrase getting used more and more as the two-time World Champion shows no signs of slowing down from an ability standpoint at Aston Martin.

However, Schumacher does not believe an ageing F1 grid is a positive sign, arguing that more should be done to create a pathway onto the grid for young talent.

Speaking to Speedweek, Schumacher proposed an increase in testing days, not exclusive to the current F1 drivers, “to break this vicious circle, to give young drivers a chance again”.

While 2021 Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri did find his way onto the F1 grid with McLaren, it came after a season spent on the sidelines following his title win, while 2022 and 2023 champions respectively Felipe Drugovich and Theo Pourchaire have been left without an F1 seat.

“And the now 42-year-old Alonso is driving instead,” Schumacher stressed. “Nothing against Alonso – but it can’t be the aim of Formula 1 to get older and older.”

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Alonso is of course justifying his place on the grid through his performances, though Schumacher claims teams are “afraid” to put their trust in a rookie driver, which he hopes will start to change after Oliver Bearman’s heroics at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Ferrari.

The 18-year-old was drafted in ahead of FP3 after Carlos Sainz underwent successful appendicitis surgery, Bearman taking full advantage of his opportunity by claiming a P7 finish on Grand Prix Saturday, comfortably seeing off the threat of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton behind.

“It was really important for someone to come in, be thrown in and achieve a good result,” said Schumacher. “Every team was almost afraid to take on new drivers.

“Hopefully it will lead to new drivers coming in again.”

Should Sainz return to Ferrari duties at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix, Bearman’s F1 2024 involvement from then on is set to consist of FP1 outings at select rounds with Ferrari customer team Haas.

Read next: Carlos Sainz’s 2025 F1 ‘negotiations have begun’ with ‘lengthy talks’ in Saudi Arabia