Formula One is a tough sport to enter and only the best of the best can enter the pinnacle of motorsport. However, there are occasions where sometimes, it becomes a family affair, where the drivers sons also get involved in Formula One.
Of course, with some of the entries being very high-profile, it is rare for the sons to emulate their fathers. In Formula One’s near 70-year history, only two father-son duos have won the world championship. Sometimes though, the relative also turns out to be a nephew, or even a grandson. So, here are the father-son duos who made it into Formula One.
Keke Rosberg and Nico Rosberg
Keke Rosberg and Nico Rosberg comprise of one of 2 father-son duos who have actually clinched a Formula One world championship. The Finn debuted in 1978 for the ATS Racing team, and four years later, he seized the World Championship in 1982 for Williams.
Several years down the line, his son, Nico Rosberg made his Formula One debut for the Williams team. After racing for them until 2009, he made a switch to the newly formed Mercedes team in 2010. Six years later, as Mercedes’ power grew and grew, Rosberg was rewarded with the 2016 world championship, 34 years later.
Jos Verstappen and Max Verstappen
This was one father-son duo, where the son surpassed the father, with Max achieving what Jos could not. Verstappen Sr made his debut in 1994, where he achieved a career best of 10th in the championship, with two back-to-back podiums. Unfortunately, those two races in Hungary and Belgium, would be the only two times he ever stepped on the podium. Otherwise, his retirements far outweighed his finishing positions, right up till 2003, which was his final year in the sport.
Max Verstappen on the other hand, has had an immensely successful career, since his debut in 2015, a little more than two decades after his father’s own debut. Since then, the young Dutchman has been on an upward trajectory, and it won’t be long until he challenges for the title.
Jan Magnussen and Kevin Magnussen
Jan and Kevin, is also another case of the son surpassing his father in Formula One. Jan Magnussen raced in F1 for three years and his highest position in his entire career was 6th. This earned him a solitary point at the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix, which incidentally, was his last race in the sport.
Meanwhile, Kevin on the other hand, grabbed a podium on his debut, a second place, which to date, remains his highest ever position. Admittedly, he was lucky to catch McLaren when they were still somewhat competitive before their fall from grace. Also, that second place remains his only podium in Formula One.
Nelson Piquet and Nelson Piquet Jr
While the last two entries were of the son surpassing the father, this case was the other way round. Nelson Piquet won three world championships during his Formula One tenure, two with Brabham, and one with Williams.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of his son, Nelson Piquet Jr. Piquet Jr debuted in 2008 for Renault. It got worse though, as he got embroiled in the Singapore GP Crashgate Scandal and it tarnished his F1 reputation for good. However, he did have the honour of being the inaugural Formula E world champion.
Graham Hill and Damon Hill
Like Keke and Nico, this Formula One father-son duo join the elite list of familial champions. Though, to be precise, they practically founded it, as they were the first father-son duo to triumph. Graham Hill won the World Championship twice, in 1962 and 1968, while Damon Hill won in 1996. Coincidentally, the gap between Hill Sr.’s and Hill Jr.’s championships, was 34 years.
Manfred Winkelhock and Markus Winkelhock
Manfred Winkelhock raced in Formula One from 1978 till 1981, sadly, his career was cut short after a fatal crash in 1985. Meanwhile, his son Markus, while not particularly successful in F1, he did have a record of his own. He became the first ever F1 driver to start last and first in the same Grand Prix. This was during the chaotic European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, when he pitted after the warmup lap for wet tyres, while everyone else were on dry tyres. That turned out to be a stroke of genius, when the sky fell on everyones heads and the race was stopped, with Markus in the lead.
Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti
Mario Andretti is a highly respected figure in the motor racing community, particularly in the USA. He clinched the world championship in 1978 while racing for the Lotus team. Unfortunately, his son, Michael Andretti could not quite meet the same level of success. Michael raced in 1993 for McLaren and bagged a solitary podium in that one and only season.
Jonathan Palmer and Jolyon Palmer
British driver Jonathan Palmer raced from 1983 to 1989, but his career was not particularly glittery. His highest ever position was a 4th place in Australia during the 1987 F1 season. His son, Jolyon Palmer, did not do much better either, finishing in the points only twice, and being dropped by Renault in 2017, with 4 races to go.
Satoru Nakajima and Kazuki Nakajima
Satoru Nakajima’s F1 career was also quite underwhelming, with his highest position being two 4th places. The Japanese driver debuted in 1987 and his last stint in the sport was in 1991. Meanwhile, his son, Kazuki Nakajima, did not fair much better, picking up only 9 points during the 2008 season while racing for Williams.
Gilles Villeneuve and Jacques Villeneuve
Gilles was a legend, there is no doubt about it and he was destined for a Formula One title. Sadly, his career would be cut short by a fatal accident in 1982, and the title went to Keke Rosberg instead.
Meanwhile, Jacques Villeneuve seized the 1997 title after a controversial collision with Michael Schumacher. That clash cost the German dearly and the title went to the Canadian. Jacques last raced in F1 in 2006, and since then, in recent years at least, he has been relegated to a staunch critic of the sport.
Ayrton Senna and Bruno Senna (Nephew)
Love him or hate him, nobody could deny that Ayrton Senna was a legendary driver in his own way. Even Michael Schumacher himself admitted that he feels that Senna was the greatest of all time. The Brazilian clinched three world championships, all with McLaren and was well-known for his rivalry with Alain Prost.
One time, he even admitted, “If you think I’m fast, you should see my nephew Bruno”. Thus, there was a lot of hype surrounding Bruno Senna and everyone was itching to see the Senna name grace Formula One once again. Sadly, he proved to be a big let down as he never once broke into the top 6 in his entire F1 stint.
Carlos Sainz and Carlos Sainz Jr
This case is vastly different from earlier entries as both father and son pursued different fields. Sainz Sr is a rally driver and a successful one as well, having taken the WRC title twice and winning the gruelling Dakar Rally twice.
Sainz Jr, on the other hand is perfectly content in Formula One and with the vastly improving McLaren team.