The return of Michael Schumacher to Formula One

Everyone at USF1 would like to congratulate Michael Schumacher on his return to F1 in 2010 with Mercedes. His decision is not only fantastic news for F1 in general but also for the statisticians in particular: having re-written the history books over the past decade or so, Michael, 41, is now in the hunt for his eighth World Championship.

For the record, far older drivers than Michael have won world titles: Giuseppe Farina was 44 when he won the first F1 Drivers' Championship in 1950; Juan Manuel Fangio won his five at ages 40,43,44,45 and 46; Sir Jack Brabham was 40 when he won his third Championship in 1966 and raced wheel to wheel with Jochen Rindt in his final season, 1970. Nor should we forget that the brilliant Tazio Nuvolari was 43-44 years old when he won some of his greatest victories in 1935 and 1936, driving for Alfa Romeo against the mighty and better-funded Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams. In 1938-39 Nuvolari won for Auto Union aged 46-47.

Fourteen drivers have  won races in their 40s and older: Fagioli at 53, Levassor at 52, Chiron at 49, Nuvolari and Farina at 47, Taruffi and Fangio at 46, Wagner and Brabham at 44, Nazzaro and Varzi at 42 and Goux, Campari and Trintignant at 41. And don't give us that verbiage about the job being much more difficult today: Fangio's last title, in 1957, was won in the days of three-hour races and against a gym-fit 27-year-old Sir Stirling Moss.

Even if Michael proves slightly slower than today's Young Guns – and that's a big "if" - none of us should under-estimate his motivation and managerial genius. In the late thirties, Caracciola and Nuvolari won races after their sheer speed had been eclipsed by younger stars – drivers such as Bernd Rosemeyer, Herman Lang and Richard Seaman. Fangio drove that stunning 1957 season – and Niki Lauda looked pretty good against Alain Prost in 1984.

Welcome back Michael: it will be an honor to share the grid with you.