- Top Ten ... fathers and sons
Relative successesMartin Williamson October 15, 2010
- Antonio Ascari
- Mario Andretti
- Michael Andretti
- Alberto Ascari
- David Brabham
- Gary Brabham
- Jack Brabham
- Damon Hill
- Graham Hill
- Kazuki Nakajima
- Satoru Nakajima
- Keke Rosberg
- Nico Rosberg
- Hans-Joachim Stuck
- Hans von Stuck
- Gilles Villeneuve
- Jacques Villeneuve
- Jacques Villeneuve snr
- Joachim Winkelhock
- Manfred Winkelhock
- Markus Winkelhock
Even though the pressures for a son following a famous father are immense, it doesn't stop them trying. In his book Burning Rubber Charles Jennings wrote: "Given the relentless scrutiny, cheap nit-picking and quickfire opprobrium ... why would anyone want to give an extra hostage to fortune in the form of a famous antecedent, whose past glories you are extremely unlikely to ever match, let alone surpass. And yet still they come. the burning Oedipal need to defeat the father must be stronger than one would have thought possible."
Graham and Damon Hill
From the moment he was born, Damon Hill was surrounded by cars and drivers, and with Graham twice winning the world title it seemed inevitable he would follow in his footsteps. But this was no story of a father making his son's route into a sport a foregone conclusion. When Damon was 15 his father died in a plane crash, and he had to take work as a motorbike courier to make ends meet. He also stayed away from cars until he was 23, and even then had to borrow £100,000 to keep going. He was 31 before he made an uninspiring F1 debut (with Brabham) but with Williams from 1993 he proved he had what it took. It seemed his chance had gone but in 1996, with a move away from Williams already a done deal, he ensured the Hills became the first father-and-son world champions. Unlike some others on this list, Damon's success was all of his own doing and came in the face of considerable adversity.
Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve
Such was the reputation on and off the track of Gilles, who was killed at Zolder in 1982, when Jacques was 11, that his son faced an almost impossible task in living up to the family name. An Indycar crown in 1995 and an F1 world title in his second season (1997) should have been enough for him to start carving out his own reputation but there followed some poor career moves and he managed only four podiums - and no wins - in the eight years after his championship. As Jennings wrote: "It's fabulous Gilles and not the sometimes extremely good Jacques who still claims ownership of the Villeneuve legend."
Piquet senior won three world titles and was renowned for brilliance behind the wheel - Niki Lauda said he "seldom makes mistakes, is always fast, is always on form" - but he was a complex character. His abrasive personality, crude tongue, impish humour and sense of his own worth meant there were as many who hated him as loved him. The sport made him immensely rich - in 1988 he was able to command $6.5 million a season - and after he retired that money and the family name opened most doors for his son, Nelson Jnr, a decent driver but not remotely in his father's class. Crashgate finished Nelson Jnr in F1, and it was perhaps telling that it was his father who was responsible for much of the bombast in the months after the news broke.
Jack and Gary and David Brabham
Jack was one of the toughest acts to follow, not only a three-time world champion, but his final title in 1966 had come driving for the eponymous team he had formed three years earlier. He was still good enough to win a grand prix in 1970, at the age of 44 and 16 seasons after his debut. Gary managed two grands prix for Life in 1990, while younger brother David had two full seasons with struggling outfits in 1990 and 1994. The first was for the Brabham team, but his father had sold the concern some years earlier. Brabham's grandson, Matthew, son of his oldest child Geoff, could become a third-generation F1 driver and is currently racing in Australian Formula Ford.
Antonio and Alberto Ascari
For a brief period Antonio Ascari seemed poised to become one of the great drivers with wins at the Italian and Belgian Grands Prix, but he was killed while leading the 1924 French GP. Undaunted, Alberto became one of the top drivers in the early days of F1, winning the world title for Ferrari in 1952 and 1953 with 11 wins in 17 championship races. Like his father, he died behind the wheel, albeit testing at Monza. Both were aged 36. Both died on fast left-hand bends. Both left a wife and two children. Both were deeply superstitious.
Keke and Nico Rosberg
If the Ascaris are the only example where the son has proved better than the illustrious father, Nico Rosberg has the ability to match the achievements of his father. Keke was a chain-smoking keep-fit fanatic who, Lauda said, took himself "unbelievably seriously". He won the 1982 world title (despite only recording one win all season) and finished third in 1985, both with Williams. That he managed son Nico early in his career helped to open doors and lure sponsors, but since 2006 Nico has established his own reputation.
The son of an Italian immigrant, Mario Andretti battled to the top in US motorsport before moving full-time to F1 at the age of 35. A popular figure off the track and determinedly skilful one on it, he won the world title in 1978 and eventually returned for another decade racing in the USA, competing at the top level into his 50s. Michael also achieved success in the USA, but there the comparison ends. One season at McLaren was abandoned after a string of poor results, Michael's son later claiming the team "sabotaged" his chances to allow it to bring in the cheaper Mika Hakkinen. Critics countered Andretti's somewhat arrogant refusal to relocate to Europe and technical limitations were more of an issue. Michael's son, Marco, tested for Honda in 2007.
Manfred and Markus Winkelhock
Manfred Winkelhock's F1 career almost all took place at the back end of the field in unreliable cars, with one points-scoring finish in Brazil in 1982 when he came fifth (but only because the first two cars to finish were disqualified). Markus was five when his father was killed in an endurance race in the USA, and his own F1 career consisted of one grand prix in which he lasted 15 laps. But he had his moment of glory, briefly leading the field after being the only driver to gamble by starting on wet tyres shortly before a storm hit the Nürburgring. Manfred's younger brothers Joachim and Thomas both raced to a good standard.
Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima
Despite not making his F1 debut until he was 34, Satoru Nakajima raced in 80 grands prix with ten top-six finishes but none of them saw him on the podium. He now runs the successful Nakajima Racing team. While his achievements on the track are more modest than most of the fathers listed here, he is regarded as one of the founding fathers of F1 in Japan. Kazuki raced for Williams between 2007 and 2009 - his debut was eventful in that he ran over two of his mechanics - with a best finish of sixth in Australia in 2008. He was dropped at the end of 2009 and linked with the doomed Stefan GP team; its failure to secure a grid position left him sidelined without a drive. His younger brother, 21-year-old Daisuke , also races and according to Satoru is the quicker of his two sons.
Hans and Hans-Joachim Stuck
Following in the footsteps of a great driver is bad enough; when your father is such a colourful character as Hans Stuck, it must be almost impossible. Stuck senior was one of the dominant Auto Union drivers of the 1930s who gained notoriety when he won an event driving backwards after reversing the gearbox in his car. In 1926 when Count Szichy, an Austrian playboy, bet that Stuck's Austro-Daimler couldn't match his Bugatti for speed. Stuck accepted the bet on the condition that the prize was the Count's wife. Stuck won the wager and the new couple spent many happy years together until her death in 1931. Hans-Joachim's six seasons in F1 were decent but no more, the highlight a brace of thirds in 1977. He subsequently enjoyed far more success in sports-car racing.
A final quote from Michael Schumacher, when asked if his son, Mick, wanted to go into Formula One what would his advice be. "I would prefer to steer him away from the racing track on to some golf course because I have seen with Jacques Villeneuve or Damon Hill, or even with my own brother Ralf, what a burden a name can be."
Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA