• Top Ten ... racing relatives

Keep it in the family

ESPN Staff
January 7, 2013

With the Schumacher name disappearing from Formula One once again this season, we look at ten of the most successful racing relatives

Jack, 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 set to race in the Pro Mazda Championship in 2013 having won last year's USF2000 title.

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.

Ayrton and Bruno Senna

In Ayrton Senna, nephew Bruno probably had the toughest act of all to follow. Ayrton transcended the sport and was often in a class of his own and despite only sitting third on the all-time winners list he is considered by many to be the greatest driver to ever grace a Formula One car. Three world championships for McLaren were expected to be added to at Williams before his premature death at Imola in 1994. He once said "If you think I'm fast, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno", but while Bruno had started in karts, the deaths of Ayrton and his own father less than two years later forced him to quit racing at the request of his mother. He returned in 2004 but had missed a lot of his racing development years as a teenager and when he made it to Formula One he had to struggle in an uncompetitive Hispania before drives with Lotus and Williams yielded a best finish of sixth place. However, having failed to display even flashes of the brilliance that his Uncle regularly showed, Bruno finds himself without a drive ahead of the 2013 season.

Gilles Villeneuve never won the world championship, but son Jacques did in 1997 © Getty Images
Enlarge

Gilles, Jacques and Jacques (Snr) 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." Gilles' brother Jacques Snr also attempted to enter three races between 1981 and 1983 but failed to qualify for a grand prix.

Emerson, Wilson and Christian Fittipaldi

Like the Brabham's there were three Fittipaldi's to race in Formula One and even a family team involved as well. Emerson was the youngest world champion at the time when he won his first title at the age of 25 in 1972 - a record that stood until Fernando Alonso won the 2005 championship - and after a second title with McLaren two years later he looked set for a long stint at the top. However, in 1976 he moved to drive for the team he and his brother Wilson both owned, and he only stepped on the podium twice more before retiring in 1980. Wilson endured a tougher time, scoring just three points in a 38-race career; 13 of which were for his own team before he retired to run it with Emerson as driver. Wilson's son Christian made it to Formula One in 1992 and fared slightly better than his father, scoring 12 points in 43 races despite being stuck in uncompetitive machinery, but he never showed Emerson's promise and switched to IndyCar in 1995.

Michael and Ralf Schumacher

The most successful Formula One driver of all time, Michael won 91 grands prix and stood on the podium 155 times en-route to winning two world championships with Benetton and then reawakening Ferrari to take an unprecedented five titles in a row. His career was not without controversy - he was famously disqualified from the 1997 championship having tried to take out Jacques Villeneuve in the final race at Jerez - but he remained ever-popular with fans even throughout his ill-fated return to the sport between 2010 and 2012. Younger brother Ralf was always up against it as the pair competed on the same track - Ralf's career began in 1997 - but he held his own in the face of Ferrari's dominance to win six races; even leading Michael home in a Schumacher one-two at Montreal.

Nelson and Nelson (Jnr) Piquet

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.

Jody and Ian Scheckter raced in 20 grands prix together © Sutton Images
Enlarge

Jody and Ian Scheckter

Like almost all of the choices on this list, a world champion is followed by a less successful relative. Jody made his Formula One debut at the end of 1972, and was joined by brother Ian two seasons later. A switch from McLaren to Tyrrell in 1974 brought Jody's first points and victories, and he was a title contender for Wolf in 1977 before his debut season for Ferrari saw him take the title ahead of team-mate Gilles Villeneuve in 1979. With the car well off the pace the following year, Jody retired having achieved his goal of becoming world champion. Ian didn't last as long, however, as he struggled to secure a full-time drive until 1977 in a works March. It was a dismal year, though, and Ian was classified in only two of 14 races that season. He returned to South Africa to continue his strong domestic career, leaving behind a record of just four finishes from 20 grands prix, and no points.

Keke and Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg has the ability to match the achievements of his father, even if 2012 wasn't quite the breakthrough year it had threatened to be. Keke was a chain-smoking keep-fit fanatic who, Niki 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. After five podiums his debut victory came in China last year, but after second place in Monaco his challenge faded and he still awaits a Mercedes capable of fighting for the championship.

Mario and Michael Andretti

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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Feeds Feeds: ESPN Staff

ESPN Staff Close