Fathers and Sons in Formula 1: Schumacher, Hill, Rosberg & More

Formula 1 has seen numerous father-son racing duos since its inception, with varying degrees of success. Whether it be genetics or upbringing, some families appear born to race cars

Fathers and Sons in Formula 1: Schumacher, Hill, Rosberg & More

Given how difficult it is to reach the highest tiers of motorsport, it's almost surprising how many children of former racing drivers reach F1. A famous surname certainly helps when it comes to attracting sponsorship, but heritage comes with added expectation and pressure.

Having a well-financed junior career - which plenty of former F1 drivers can clearly provide - is a huge help, although what better way to learn the subtleties of racecraft than from a parent who's been there and done it?

Several sons have followed their fathers into F1, and the wider motorsport world is filled with family connections. There's even a dynasty or two that have racked up unprecedented success across multiple generations.

Graham Hill & Damon Hill

Perhaps the most famous father-son pairing in F1. Graham Hill's F1 career spanned 17 years, during which he was crowned world champion twice; once in 1962 driving for BRM and again in 1968 for Lotus. To date he is the only driver to win the triple crown, winning the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix as a driver. He won the latter of these five times in the 1960s, earning him the nickname 'Mr Monaco'.

Graham Hill died in a plane crash when son Damon was still a teenager, and several years passed before the younger Hill took up motor racing. Initially racing motorbikes, Damon Hill eventually found his way into F1 as a test driver for Brabham. He then moved to Williams, where he earned all but one of his 22 grand prix victories and sole world title in 1996.

Gilles Villeneuve & Jacques Villeneuve

Regarded as one of the finest drivers of his day, Gilles Villeneuve raced in F1 from 1977 until his death at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982. He made his debut with McLaren but raced exclusively for Ferrari thereafter, winning six grands prix during his career. He was never crowned world champion but he came close in 1979, finishing second behind team-mate Jody Scheckter.

14 years after Gilles Villeneuve's fatal accident, his son Jacques burst onto the F1 scene with Williams. He very nearly became world champion in his debut season, narrowly missing out to team-mate Damon Hill, but he went one better in 1997 after a famous battle with Michael Schumacher. The German driver led the standings heading into the final race at Jerez, but was disqualified from the championship after colliding with Villeneuve in the closing stages of the grand prix. Villeneuve only saw the podium four more times after that, and he left the sport mid-way through the 2006 season.

Keke Rosberg & Nico Rosberg

Keke Rosberg's F1 career spanned nine seasons, with the Finn making his debut at the South African Grand Prix in 1978 for minnows Theodore Racing. It wasn't until 1982 that he secured a competitive drive, signing for Williams alongside Carlos Reutemann initially, followed by Mario Andretti for a single race and then Derek Daly for the remainder of the season. Rosberg clinched the title that year despite only winning one grand prix, the joint-lowest of any championship-winning driver, level with Mike Hawthorn's campaign in 1958.

Rosberg took the chequered flag five times in his F1 career, but his son Nico was even more successful. First racing for Williams between 2006 and 2009, Nico then moved to Mercedes where he stayed for the rest of his career. Enjoying the peak of the team's dominance at the start of the V6 turbo-hybrid era, Rosberg amassed 23 grand prix wins and took his tally to 57 podium finishes, culminating in a world title in 2016 after pipping team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just five points. Days later, Nico announced his shock retirement.

Along with Graham and Damon Hill, Keke and Nico Rosberg are the only other father-son duo to be crown world champions in F1.

Jos Verstappen & Max Verstappen

Jos Verstappen raced in F1 for eight seasons in 10 years, starting at Benetton in 1994 and ending with Minardi in 2003. He also raced for Simtek, Footwork, Tyrrell, Stewart and Arrows, scoring points just seven times from 106 starts. His F1 career peaked early, with a pair of podium finishes at the Hungarian Grand Prix and Belgian Grand Prix in 1994, although Michael Schumacher was able to win eight races and the drivers' title with the same car that year.

Though his achievements in F1 were limited, Jos was able to pass a great deal of knowledge on to son Max, guiding the youngster (whose mother Sophie was a karting champion in her own right) through a glittering junior career that led to an F1 debut at the age of just 17. Impressing in his first season for Toro Rosso, Max was promoted to Red Bull early in 2016, winning on his team debut at the Spanish Grand Prix. Since then he has established himself as one of the best drivers on the grid, racking up 10 victories and 42 podiums despite rarely having the fastest car.

Jan Magnussen & Kevin Magnussen

Jan Magnussen enjoyed a brief stint in F1, making a one-off appearance for McLaren in 1995 before a season-and-a-half with Stewart between 1997 and 1998. Scoring points just once - a sixth place finish at the Canadian Grand Prix, his final ever appearance in the series - the Dane is better known for his success in endurance racing. Jan Magnussen is a four-time GT class-winner at Le Mans, and has featured in every edition of the famous race since 1999, aside from 2015 when he did not start the race following a heavy crash in practice. He's also a regular at the 24 Hours of Daytona, collecting a GTLM class win with Corvette in 2015.

His son Kevin Magnussen impressed as a youngster, competing well in various national Formula 3 series before winning the Renault 3.5 championship in 2013. Making his F1 debut for McLaren the following year, he finished second in his first race at the Australian Grand Prix, although this would prove to be his best result in F1. He was unceremoniously dropped by McLaren for 2015, returning for Renault in 2016 prior to a four-year stint with Haas. Now racing in IMSA, Magnussen has spoken of his desire to race Le Mans alongside his father one day.

Michael Schumacher & Mick Schumacher

Until recently, Michael Schumacher was comfortably regarded as the most successful F1 driver of all time, winning a total of 91 grands prix and seven world drivers' championships in an F1 career that spanned more than 20 years. His first two world titles came while driving for Benetton in 1994 and 1995, with a switch to Ferrari in 1996 bringing unprecedented success: he was crowned world champion five times in a row between 2000 and 2004, finding his way onto the podium in more than half of his 306 F1 starts. His stats would be even more impressive but for the post-retirement stint with Mercedes which lasted three years and delivered just one podium finish.

A skiing accident in 2013 left Schumacher with severe brain injuries, and little is known about his condition today. His son Mick began racing in Formula 4 in 2015, and steady progress eventually saw him win the European Formula 3 title in 2018 and the Formula 2 championship in 2020. A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Mick earned an F1 seat at Haas for 2021 and will make his debut alongside fellow F2 graduate Nikita Mazepin.

Ralf Schumacher & David Schumacher

Although Michael Schumacher was the dominant force in F1 for much of the 1990s and 2000s, he wasn't the only Schumacher winning races: his brother Ralf enjoyed a successful career of his own, albeit on a lesser scale. Strong results in his junior career led to an F1 debut with Jordan, where he was famously told to hold position behind Damon Hill at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1998 in order to preserve the team's first-ever 1-2 finish. Ralf left for Williams in 1999 and won half a dozen grands prix in a six-year stint with the team, finishing his career at Toyota. He stood on the podium 27 times in total, making 180 starts.

Like Michael, Ralf also has a racing driver son: David Schumacher competed for Charouz and Carlin in Formula 3 in 2020, although he is yet to score a point in the series. The 19-year-old will line up for Trident in 2021.

Nelson Piquet & Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet was one of the most successful F1 drivers of the 1980s, demonstrating remarkable consistency that rarely dropped him out of the top six on race day. He was a world champion twice with Brabham in 1981 and 1983 respectively and earned a third world championship with Williams in 1987. Only five drivers in the history of the series have won more world titles than the Brazilian, who later went on to compete in the Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Two of Piquet's sons are racing drivers, although it's his namesake - Nelson Piquet Jr - who has had the biggest impact in the motorsport world so far. Piquet Jr drove for Renault in 2008 and for half of the 2009 season, with a best result of second at the German Grand Prix in his first year in F1. As a rookie, the then 23-year-old was embroiled in a major controversy that later became known as Crashgate: Piquet Jr crashed at Singapore Grand Prix, bringing out the safety car at a point in the race that helped team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race. However it later transpired that the crash had been a deliberate ploy agreed by Piquet Jr, technical director Pat Symonds and team boss Flavio Briatore, for which Renault were handed a ban for, suspended for two years.

Nelson Piquet Jr has raced in several series since, becoming the inaugural Formula E champion in 2015.

Carlos Sainz Sr & Carlos Sainz Jr

Carlos Sainz Sr's rally career began in 1980, appearing in the World Rally Championship for the first time in 1987; the same year he won the Spanish Rally Championship for the first time. He eventually became WRC champion with Toyota in 1990, repeating the feat in 1992 having narrowly lost the title in the intervening season. Collecting 26 WRC wins and 97 podium finishes, Sainz has since switched his attention to the annual Dakar Rally, which he has won three times for Volkswagen, Peugeot and Mini.

Although Sainz Sr never featured in F1, his son caught the track racing bug having supported fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso growing up. He won the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2014 as a Red Bull young driver, resulting in a call up to Toro Rosso in 2015. Having been overlooked for a promotion by Red Bull he eventually pushed for a late-season move to Renault in 2017, driving for the team for the 2018 season. He broke away to McLaren for 2019, with his consistent performances and two podium finishes earning him a seat at Ferrari for 2021.

Related F1 drivers

Ayrton Senna & Bruno Senna (uncle and nephew)

Ayrton Senna needs no introduction, with the three-time world champion regarded by many as the greatest driver ever to have lived. His F1 career began with Toleman in 1984, with the Brazilian driver finishing on the podium three times in his debut season in spite of the unreliable machinery at his disposal. His first win came for Lotus at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1985, but it wasn't until his 1988 move to McLaren that he won his first title. His relationship with team-mate Alain Prost was famously fierce, and he relinquished his crown to the Frenchman in 1989 before winning it back in the two seasons that followed.

Senna was killed at Imola in 1994, and his death temporarily held up the racing ambitions of his nephew Bruno, who was 11 years old at the time. But the youngster continued to pursue motor racing, and after finishing third in the British Formula 3 Championship in 2006 and then second in GP2 in 2008, he was eventually handed a shot in F1 with Hispania in 2010. Senna had little impact with the backmarkers, but earned a reprieve a year later by replacing Nick Heidfeld at Lotus mid-way through 2011. This led to a drive with Williams - his late uncle's last team - in 2012, although he could only muster a handful of points finishes. Bruno Senna's biggest achievement to date is a World Endurance Championship title with LMP2 outfit Rebellion, won in 2017.

Charles Leclerc & Arthur Leclerc (brothers)

Charles Leclerc's rise in F1 has been nothing short of meteoric. He won the GP3 title in 2016 and then dominated Formula 2 a year later, winning the championship by a convincing margin. He made a quiet start to the 2018 F1 season with Alfa Romeo, but things began to click in his fourth race with an incredible sixth place finish in Baku, which he followed with a string of impressive points finishes.

As a member of Ferrari's young driver programme, Leclerc was promoted to the Italian team in 2019. He took pole position in only his second race in Bahrain, only for a reliability issue to steal away a likely win. That maiden victory came at the Belgian Grand Prix, and was quickly followed a week later with a second win in front of the Tifosi at Monza. A drop in competitiveness saw Ferrari fall away from the front-runners in 2020, but Leclerc still proved his class by taking two podium finishes and generally outperforming the car, while his team-mate - four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, no less - struggled for pace all season.

Charles Leclerc is the godson of the late F1 driver Jules Bianchi, who died nine months after a collision at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix left him in a coma.

Charles' younger brother Arthur will drive for Prema in Formula 3 in 2021, having finished second in the Formula Regional European standings in 2020.

Sebastian Vettel & Fabian Vettel (brothers)

Few drivers have enjoyed more success than Sebastian Vettel, who won four world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013. In that time he set various records, becoming the youngest driver to become world champion and winning nine consecutive grands prix en route to his fourth championship.

A move to Ferrari followed in 2015 in a bid to emulate his hero, Michael Schumacher. And although he won 14 races for the Maranello team, that elusive fifth title never quite materialised. A winner of 53 F1 races to date, he'll drive for Aston Martin in 2021 alongside team-mate Lance Stroll, whose father co-owns the team.

It's a little-known fact that Sebastian Vettel's brother Fabian - who is 11 years younger than the F1 driver - is also a racing driver in his own right. Fabian Vettel came to motor racing much later than his older brother, but has competed in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series and more recently in the ADAC GT Masters series.

Lewis Hamilton & Nicolas Hamilton (brothers)

Lewis Hamilton is arguably the most successful F1 driver ever, having surpassed Michael Schumacher's record of 91 grand prix wins in 2020 and equalled the German's tally of seven world titles. He's also been on pole position a record 98 times to date, 30 more than Schumacher managed in his career and 33 more than that of the great Ayrton Senna. Hamilton signed a contract to race for Mercedes again in 2021, and he heads into the new season as the favourite to secure an eighth world championship.

His brother Nicolas has also established a racing career of his own, competing in cars that have been adapted to account for his cerebral palsy. The younger Hamilton started out in the Renault Clio Cup UK championship in 2011, before making his first appearances in the British Touring Car Championship in 2015. Nicolas Hamilton secured a full-time drive in the BTCC with Motorbase in 2019, moving to Team Hard for 2020. That season he scored his first ever point in the BTCC, finishing 15th in the third race at Brands Hatch.

Racing relatives outside F1

Dale Earnhardt Sr & Dale Earnhardt Jr (father and son)

Himself the son of a stock car racer, Dale Earnhardt is one of the most successful NASCAR drivers of all time. In a career that spanned four decades, he amassed 76 Winston Cup race wins and was series champion on seven occasions, a record held jointly today with Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson. He also won the Daytona 500 in 1998, losing his life at the same race three years later.

His son - Dale Earnhardt Jr - went on to win the Daytona 500 in 2004, doing so again in 2014. Prior to that he won the Busch Series in 1998 and 1999, and amassed 26 Cup Series victories before bringing his full-time career to an end in 2017. Although he didn't enjoy quite as much success as his father, Earnhardt Jr was a firm favourite with fans, winning the Most Popular Driver Award 15 times in a row between 2003 and 2017.

Dario Franchitti & Marino Franchitti (brothers)

Born in Scotland in 1973, Dario Franchitti's early racing career guided him towards North America rather than Europe. He competed in the open-wheel CART Championship between 1997 and 2002, later earning a full-time drive in IndyCar with Andretti in 2004. In the 10 years that followed, Franchitti won 23 races and was series champion four times: only Scott Dixon has since surpassed that mark, winning his sixth title in 2020. Franchitti also won the Indy 500 three times in five years, taking the chequered flag in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

Meanwhile, his brother Marino Franchitti has also tasted racing success. Winning the British GT title in 2001, he has raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring 10 times, winning the race for Chip Ganassi alongside team-mates Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in 2014. He has also competed in the World Endurance Championship (among other series), driving the Ford GT at Le Mans 50 years to the day after its famous victory in 1966.

Dario and Marino are also the cousins of Paul di Resta, who raced in F1 for three full seasons with Force India as well as a one-off race for Williams in 2017, replacing the ill Felipe Massa.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Nico Rosberg , Damon Hill , Mick Schumacher
Author Joe Holding
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