Fathers & Sons In Formula 1

There are only 20 Formula 1 drivers competing in the world during an F1 season, so it is a highly competitive sport that demands great talent and skill. However, F1 stands out from other sports for many fathers and sons who have competed, something very unusual.

To get to F1, you need a lot of money, and being the son of an F1 driver gives you a lot of facilities to get to the top category and attract more sponsors, although it is also true that it means added pressure to meet expectations.

Be that as it may, today we will review some fathers and sons who have raced in F1. Some sons have not been half as good as their parents and have had very discreet sports careers, while others have been able to match or even surpass them.

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1. Graham & Damon Hill

Graham Hill was one of the most talented F1 drivers of the 1960s and 1970s. He raced in F1 from 1958 to 1975 and won the championship in 1962 with BRM and in 1968 with Lotus, and is the only driver to win the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsports: the Monaco GP, Le Mans, and the Indy 500. Graham also earned the nickname of “Mr. Monaco” for winning 5 times on the streets of the Principality.

Graham died in 1975 in a plane crash when his son Damon was 15, so he couldn’t help him much, unlike other parents we’ll see below. Damon got into motorcycle racing relatively late, aged 23, and made his F1 debut aged 31 with Brabham.

In 1993, Damon signed for Williams in one of the team’s golden days, so he was able to show his true talent, winning the drivers’ title in 1996 and making the Hills the first father and son to be F1 world champions.


2. Gilles & Jacques Villeneuve

Gilles Villeneuve is considered one of the best drivers of his time, although the statistics do not do him justice, as his short racing career in F1 lasted from 1977 to 1982 when he died in an accident at the Belgian GP.

Gilles made his F1 debut with McLaren and subsequently drove exclusively for Ferrari and was passionate about risk. He consistently outperformed mediocre Ferraris and came close to winning the world championship in 1979, finishing second behind teammate Jody Scheckter.

His son Jacques, on the other hand, despite not being considered as good, was proclaimed world champion with Williams in 1997, in his second year in F1, after a tough fight with Michael Schumacher. In 1996, his debut year, he was runner-up to teammate Damon Hill. However, until his retirement in 2006, his career declined, and he could only get 4 more podium finishes.


3. Keke & Nico Rosberg

Keke Rosberg competed in F1 from 1978 to 1986, scoring 17 podium finishes and 5 wins in 114 races, and was crowned world champion in 1982 with Williams with just one win.

Keke managed to pass on his passion for racing to his son and promote him throughout his racing career. Nico was able to beat his father’s successes, earning a reputation in Formula 1 for himself.

Nico already showed his talent from 2006 to 2009 at Williams and subsequently drove for Mercedes for the rest of his career. With the Silver Arrows dominating the hybrid era, Nico had a great battle with Lewis Hamiton and defeated him in 2016 to become world champion.

After his success, he unexpectedly announced his retirement since he had already achieved his dream: to be the world champion. The Rosbergs and the Hills are the only father-son duo who are both world champions.


4. Nelson & Nelsinho Piquet

Nelson Piquet is one of the best and most legendary drivers in F1 history, triple world champion in 1981, 1983, and 1987 in one of the most competitive eras in the sport.

He was loved and hated in equal measure with a recognizable character on and off the track, but with 23 wins, 60 podiums, and 24 pole positions, he is undeniably one of the greatest in the sport.

His great success opened the doors to his son, Nelson Piquet Jr., “Nelsinho,” who wanted to imitate his father’s successes, and although he was a decent driver, he was not even remotely close to his father.

Nelsinho drove for Renault during 2008 and half the 2009 season. Despite finishing second in the 2008 German GP, his F1 career will always be remembered for the controversial Crashgate: due to team orders, he crashed on purpose during the 2008 Singapore GP so that a safety car could come out that favored the victory of his teammate Fernando Alonso.

After F1, Nelsinho has raced in other competitions such as NASCAR, RallyCross, and Formula E. In 2015 he won the first-ever Formula E championship.


5. Jos & Max Verstappen

Jos Verstappen had a discreet sports career in F1. He raced from 1994 to 2003 and never really had competitive cars. In 1994 he got two podiums, and the downside of his career is that out of 107 Grand Prix, he retired from half the races.

On the other hand, his son Max has marked a real before and after in the category, being one of the most talented drivers ever seen. He made his debut in 2015 at just 17 years old, the youngest in history, and in 2016 he already achieved his first victory in his first race with Red Bull.

With Mercedes dominating, he has never been able to claim the title until 2021 when Red Bull has been on par, and the Dutchman has defeated seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in an epic battle to become world champion.

He still has a long career ahead of him, and he can achieve great things and go down in the history books as one of the best in the sport.


6. Michael & Mick Schumacher

Michael Schumacher is probably the most famous driver in the history of F1, and until recently, the most successful driver of all, with 7 world championships, 2 of them with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and 5 with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004, in addition to 91 wins and 155 podiums.

The German marked the best era of the Prancing Horse in F1, and after retiring, he returned to F1 for 3 years with Mercedes, achieving a podium finish.

Michael suffered a severe skiing accident in 2013, and, to this day, little is known about his health. His son Mick followed in his father’s footsteps, starting racing in F4 in 2015 and later becoming F3 European champion in 2018 and F2 champion in 2020.

In 2021, Mick made his F1 debut with Haas, and although he had the worst car on the grid, he was able to show his great talent by constantly beating his teammate Nikita Mazepin. Mick is one of the great young promises of F1, and this year he will be partnered with the experienced Kevin Magnussen, next on the list.


7. Jan & Kevin Magnussen

Jan Magnussen only contested 25 races in F1, one with McLaren in 1995 and later completed a season and a half with Stweart in 1997 and 1998. His best result was sixth at the 1998 Canadian GP, although he could not show his full potential in F1, as their cars were not very competitive.

Where Jan has excelled is in endurance competitions, achieving great success. He is a four-time GT class winner at Le Mans and also won the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona and the 2006, 2008, and 2009 12 Hours of Sebring in that category.

His son Kevin made his F1 debut in 2014 with McLaren and took second place in his first race, although he has not achieved another podium since. In 2015 he was a reserve driver for McLaren, and in 2016 he signed for Renault, and from 2017 to 2020, he has driven for Haas, a team to which he has returned in 2022 to replace Nikita Mazepin.

Kevin is a fast and aggressive driver and is known for his character both on and off the track, and if not, say that to Nico Hulkenberg.


8. Jack & Gary & David Graham

Jack Brabham raced in F1 from 1955 to 1970 and soon became one of the great legends of the sport, being world champion in 1959, 1960, and 1966. His legacy does not end only there, since Jack founded the Brabham team in 1960, one of the most iconic and successful teams in F1 history.

The Brabham team raced in F1 from 1962 to 1992, winning two constructors’ titles (1966 and 1967) and four drivers’ titles (1966, 1967, 1981, and 1983), with 1966 being the first and only championship won by a driver in his own car.

Jack’s sons Gary and David also competed in F1, although they did not do well. Gary raced in 2 Grands Prix in 1990 with the Life team, one of the worst teams in history, and failed to qualify for either, and after that, he never came back to F1.

David raced in 24 F1 races in 1990 with Brabham and 1994 with Simtek, both of which were not very competitive cars and his best result was a 10th place finish at the 1994 Spanish GP.

He has stood out in sports car racing, being one of the most successful and experienced Australian drivers. He has won three international Sports Car Series, the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race, and the American Le Mans Series in 2009 and 2010.


9. Mario & Michael Andretti

The American Mario Andretti, although born in Italy, raced in F1 from 1968 to 1982, one of the most competitive and dangerous times in F1. Mario participated in 128 Grand Prix, achieved 12 wins and 19 podiums, and was proclaimed world champion in 1978 with the famous Lotus 79 and its innovative ground effect.

Mario is one of the most successful Americans in the history of F1, and he is also the last to have achieved a victory. After F1, he continued to race in the US at the top level for another decade, well into his 50s.

His son Michael also became a Formula 1 driver, although without much success. Michael only raced 13 races in F1, with McLaren and as Ayrton Senna’s teammate. He got a podium finish at the Italian GP but was replaced due to his poor results by Mika Hakkinen.


10. Wilson & Christian Fittipaldi

Wilson and Christian Fittipaldi are the brother and nephew of Emerson Fittipaldi, double F1 world champion in 1972 and 1974. Wilson and Christian did not have great results in F1 despite Emerson’s success.

Wilson raced in F1 in 1972 and 1973 with Brabham and in 1975 with Fittipaldi Automotive, the team he founded with his brother Emerson and which competed from 1975 to 1982, achieving three podium finishes. Wilson raced 35 races and had a best finish of fifth at the 1973 German GP.

His son Christian competed in F1 between 1992 and 1994 for Minardi and Footwork, achieving three fourth places.

As you may have noticed, the Fittipaldi family is heavily involved in F1 and motorsports, with Emerson’s grandsons Pietro and Enzo now racing drivers as well. Pietro is a reserve driver for the Haas F1 team and Enzo races in F2.


11. Satoru & Kazuki Nakajima

Satoru Nakajima raced in F1 from 1987 to 1991 with Lotus and Tyrrell, taking part in 80 races. At Lotus, he was a teammate of Ayrton Senna, and his best result in F1 was two-fourth places.

Although his F1 career has not been very prolific, Satoru is regarded in Japan as one of the country’s pioneers in F1 and is highly regarded for having come to F1 as the son of a humble family. As a curious fact, in 1987, Satoru agreed to carry an onboard camera for the 1987 season, being the first to carry it for an entire season.

His son Kazuki raced in F1 from 2007 to 2009 with Williams, taking a best result of sixth at the 2008 Australian GP. He did not stand out much in F1, but he has done so in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he has won three times, in 2018, 2019, and 2020 in the LMP1 category.


12. Jonathan & Jolyon Palmer

Jonathan Palmer raced in F1 between 1983 and 1989, and although he won the European F2 in 1983 and the British F3 in 1981, in F1, he did not stand out for his results. Jonathan took part in 88 races, with a best result of fourth place and a fastest lap.

The story of his son Jolyon is similar, although his time in F1 was much shorter. Jolyon won the GP2 Series in 2014 and made his debut in 2016 with Renault, where he drove until he was fired and replaced by Carlos Sainz after the Japanese GP due to his poor results. He only scored points in two races in a season and a half.

Jolyon is currently a commentator, providing detailed analysis of races and teams, so it seems he has found his place.


13. Manfred & Markus Winkelhock

German Manfred Winkelhock took part in 47 F1 races between 1980 and 1985, although he abandoned 30 of them, as he always had unreliable and slow cars, so he could only score points in one race, thanks to a fifth place in the 1982 Brazilian GP. Manfred was killed in a drag car accident in the United States when his son Markus was 5 years old.

Markus’ sporting career in F1 consists of only one race, the 2007 European GP, although he had his moment of glory. Winkelhock was Christijan Albers’ replacement at the Spyker team after the British GP, and although he only drove one race, he did not go unnoticed.

The race started with light rain, but it started to rain very heavily as soon as the lights went out. Markus started last, but thanks to starting on full wet tires while the rest of the field was on dry-weather tires, he was able to lead the race for a few laps until it was suspended. He was overtaken by faster cars on the restart and finally retired on lap 15.

These 15 laps have made Markus the only driver in F1 history to start last on the grid and lead the race in his first GP, and he is also the only driver in F1 history to start both last and first in the same GP. Despite this epic foray into F1, Markus was replaced by Sakon Yamamoto for the rest of the season.


14. Hans & Hans Joachim Stuck

Hans Stuck was a famous German driver in the 1930s, with numerous successes driving the famous Auto Union “Silver Arrows,” and was known as “Bergkönig” or “King of the Mountains” for his domination of hillclimbing.

After the Second World War, Hans continued to race and entered 5 F1 races between 1951 and 1953, although he only took part in three, and he only finished one. Hans was a highly charismatic figure and one of the most notorious drivers of the 1930s.

His son, Hans Joachim, took part in 81 Formula 1 Grands Prix between 1974 and 1979, achieving two podium finishes in 1977 for Brabham as best results. However, like his father, he was a multidisciplinary driver, and his greatest successes were achieved outside of F1.

Hans Joachim has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, the 24 Hours of Nürburgrin three times, and he has been champion of the DTM and the world sportscar championship.


15. André & Teddy Pilette

André Pilette was a Belgian driver, son of Indy 500 driver Théodorore Pilette. He competed in F1 between 1951 and 1964, albeit sporadically, since he only participated in 14 races and started 9 of them, achieving fifth place in 1954 Belgium GP as the best result.

Teddy Pilette followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and devoted himself to racing, although without great results. Teddy ran one F1 race in 1974 with Brabham, finishing 17th, and 3 races in 1977 with BRM, although he did not qualify for any of them.

In this case, we could not say who was better, the father, the son, or the grandson, since they all had discreet results.


16. Reg & Tim Parnell

Reg Parnell was one of the most successful British drivers of the 1930s, winning the BRDC Gold Star three times, and unlike most drivers of the time, he did not come from a wealthy or aristocratic family but came from a humble family.

After the Second World War, Reg continued to race, taking part in the first F1 Grand Prix in history, at Silverstone, with Alfa Romeo, marking the first time since 1938 that a British driver had entered a race in a foreign car.

In that race, Reg showed his talent, finishing third. Between 1950 and 1954, Reg entered another 5 races, achieving a best finish of 4th. In 1962, Reg created his own F1 team, Reg Parnell Racing, which competed until 1969.

His son Tim entered 4 F1 races between 1959 and 1963, qualifying for only 2. In 1964, Tim took over Reg Parnell Racing with his father’s death.


Conclusion

F1 has always been an expensive sport, so you need a lot of resources to get to the category, and being the son of a driver offers you many facilities, as we have seen in many cases on this list.

However, it can also be a disadvantage due to the high expectations because of your last name, which can add further pressure. Many sons have not been able to beat their parents’ successes, either because of talent or because of the pressure put on them.


Sources

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