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The list of sports legends who resumed their careers after a first goodbye includes Muhammad Ali , Michael Jordan , Pelé , Bjorn Borg or George Foreman . Among all of them, only the Bulls guard, who returned at age 32, was able to sustain his previous competitive level. Fernando Alonso will return to the Great Circus in 2021 at the age of 39, although his case is no exception in the highest category, which already had six other champions back after a sabbatical.

Niki Lauda

The Austrian genius was the first great champion, under current standards, to get fed up with F1. After 11 dropouts in his 13 races at the 1979 World Cup, he threw a famous bang on Bernie Ecclestone , his boss at Brabham: "I'm sick of driving your cars in circles." In order not to get bored, he turned to his airline, Lauda Air. The two years of leave, nailed to those of Alonso, ended in 1982 when Ron Dennis extended a juicy contract, with a trial period of three months. In reality, Niki had forced his salary improvement thanks to his anthological victory on the streets of Long Beach.

The development of the Porsche engine during 1983 paid off a year later, coinciding with the arrival of Alain Prost at McLaren. The Frenchman scored seven victories, but Lauda's consistency decided his third crown, by a margin of half a point.

Lauda's satiety seemed to have penetrated Alan Jones , champion with Williams in 1980, although he was mired in a terrible rivalry with Carlos Reutemann that prevented him from revalidating the title a year later. In his head he could only go back to Australia and become a farmer. Despite an accident after falling from a horse and a physicist damaged by the massive intake of beer, in 1983 he returned with Arrows. Its later baggage deserves to be postponed into oblivion.

Alain Prost

"I've never driven such a bad car before. A real truck!" This comment at the 1991 Japanese GP was the final divorce between Alain Prost and Cesare Fiorio , Ferrari sports director, architect of an F643 that did not win a single race that year. At 36, the French driver left F1 and was retrained as a television commentator.

Prost, behind the wheel of the FW15C with which he won the 1993 World Cup.

He was actually just waiting for a call from Sir Frank Williams , who convinced him to pilot the FW15C, a gem designed by Adrian Newey . After seven victories in 16 races, The Little Professor raised his fourth world crown. He had another contract year signed, but Renault, Williams' biker, demanded the signing of Ayrton Senna . And that was something the French could not tolerate. His final goodbye, at 38, was the prelude to the coronation of his replacement, Damon Hill .

Nigel Mansell

The Briton, aboard the Williams FW14B, had closed 1992 with nine wins, 14 poles, eight fast laps and 108 points, 52 more than Riccardo Patrese . However, his request for a salary increase was seen as almost an insult by Sir Frank, so Mansell chose to make the jump to the IndyCar. In the Newman-Haas team, alongside Mario Andretti , he debuted with pole and victory in Queensland (Australia). And in the Indianapolis 500 Miles he came to lead with 20 laps to go.

Mansell in Williams' jumpsuit Desmond BoylanREUTERS

The bad start to the following course, added to an accident at the Brickyard, coincided with the claims of Bernie Ecclestone , who was trying to reactivate F1 after the death of Ayrton Senna . In July 1994, Mansell disputed the French GP with Williams, while combining his activity in the Indy. In the last round of the World Cup, his victory at the Australian GP gives the team the constructors' title, but he loses his seat in favor of David Coulthard . Thus, in 1995 he signed for McLaren-Mercedes, the team of a Ron Dennis who never believed in him. At 41 years old, with a weight that prevented him from entering the passenger compartment of his car, Mansell only played two races before the final retirement after the Spanish GP.

Michael Schumacher

He had arrived with options to the last race in 2006, but Fernando Alonso did not fail at Interlagos to seal his second title. So at 37, Michael Schumacher saw the time come to give way to Kimi Raikkonen , who had signed a pre-contract with Ferrari in late 2005. Unsurprisingly, his duties as Jean Todt's assistant and the occasional test appearances. private between 2007 and 2008 did not remove the bug.

Finally, in November 2009, he was seduced by Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn , his old partners at Benetton and Ferrari, and he joined Mercedes, back to the World Cup after five decades of absence. The Silver Arrows, in full reconstruction, never provided him with a car with which to fight for victories. After 58 races, between 2010 and 2012, not a victory and only three laps in the lead. His only podium coincided with that Alonso exhibition in Valencia. At his departure in Abu Dhabi, at 43, he left at least a handful of formidable overtaking.

Kimi raikkonen

The 2009 World Cup had been a torment for Ferrari, decided since the summer to incorporate Alonso. The victory at Spa with the F60 would not be enough to change the pattern, so in November, Raikkonen confirmed that he was taking a break. I had just turned 30 years old. Immediately, behind the wheel of the Citröen C4, he dared with the World Rally Championship. Along with his co-driver Kaj Lindström, he suffered six accidents in the first seven races and closed the championship with 25 points, 142 fewer than his teammate Sebastien Ogier .

Raikkonen with the C4 from Citroen.REUTERS

So in 2011, Iceman tests his fortune in the third division of the American NASCAR, at the controls of a Toyota of Kyle Busch Motorsports. His lousy results made him reconsider after some ramblings with Williams, he signed two seasons with Lotus-Renault, where he would replace Vitaly Petrov to pair with Romain Grosjean . The world champion in 2007 would later return to the Scuderia and even today, once quarantined, he leads the Alfa Romeo project.

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  • Fernando Alonso
  • Kimi raikkonen
  • Michael Schumacher
  • Lotus
  • Romain Grosjean
  • sports
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