Throughout the history of Formula 1, we've seen many families having multiple talented drivers who’ve compete at the highest level in motor racing. Here, we take a look at the combinations which have graced the F1 grids and find out whether a wise old-head or a passionate new blood is the best way to outwit a family.
Pair Number 1. Graham and Damon Hill
Hill Snr is arguably one of the best drivers ever to have entered our humble little sport; a double World Champion and the only driver to ever hold the Triple Crown of Motorsport. With an impressive record of 14 wins and 36 podiums from 176 starts, Hill Snr's stats are certainly enough to be classed as a true F1 great.
Hill Jr is also a very talented driver. Together they make up the only father-son pairing to both be Formula 1 World Champions , with Damon achieving the fate in 1996 and Graham in 1962 and 1968. While the late Graham has the upper hand on titles, the stats potentially argue his offspring may be the top dog. Damon overtook his father’s family records, racking up 22 wins and 42 podiums in less starts than his father. To top it all, off he out scored his father by 90 points over their respective careers. In this case, we'll call this one a draw, or at worst, a photo finish.
Pair 2. Mario and Michael Andretti
The second father-son pairing on the list is quite clearly a whitewash in the favour of the old man. Mario is something of a cult hero Stateside, along with Phil Hill (no relation). He is in a very select group of American Formula 1 World Drivers Champions.
For Michael, however, the pinnacle of motorsport dealt a very different hand. The third most successful driver in CART history tried his hand at driving for McLaren, however, it wasn't a fraction of his father. The 1993 McLaren Marlboro Ford was his partner in crime for the coming year and for his venture into F1. The season started poorly. It was his fifth grand prix before he even made it to the chequered flag (the Spanish Grand Prix in fifth place).
With only three points finishes and one podium all season he left to return to his homeland. This happened three races prior to the season’s end after he was released from the team after an unsuccessful campaign, made only worse by his legendary teammate Ayrton Senna racking up seven podiums (five wins and two second places). He was replaced by Mika Hakkinen for the final rounds who managed to equal his number of podium finishes (one) and his best finish (third place) in just his second race in the sport. On a side note, Michael's son Marco only tested for Honda and never quite became the first third-generation F1 driver ever.
Pair 3. Nelson Piquet Snr and Jr
Another pair which has only one easy winner, a triple world champion in Piquet Snr and a one-time podium finisher Piquet Jr. You realise the gulf in class when Piquet Jr's number of starts only marginally outweighs Piquet Snr's number of victories. Snr had a triumphant 13 year stint in the sport, finding success at Brabham, Lotus, Williams and Benetton (which later became the Renault team that game Jr his debut in 2008).
For Piquet Jr, he sat second in the 2006 GP2 championship, losing only to the now-triple F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, which earned him a spot as Renault test driver for 2007. Piquet got his chance only 12 months later when Fisichella departed to the Force India team and Alonso returned in a swap deal with McLaren which also involved the services of Heikki Kovalainen. Despite clear number 1 status, nobody expected Alonso to dominate the way he did. Despite this, Piquet earned a second season with a second place in Germany, a fourth in Japan and three other points finishes.
His father had a clear second season syndrome after winning the title (see our worst title defences article here). Sadly for Piquet Jr, it was hereditary - ten rounds and no points finishes. Team mate Alonso, by contrast, showed the car’s true potential with five points finishes. In this case, it's very clear that Piquet Snr has the edge over son Piquet Jr, despite the latter winning the inaugural Formula E championship last year, thanks to his supreme energy management skills.
Pair 4. Michael and Ralf Schumacher (Brothers)
This particular pair are not only the sole brothers on this list, but are also the only duo to have ever race alongside each other in Formula 1.
Debuting in 1991, the eldest Schumacher (Michael) wrestled with the famous Jordan 191 around Belgium with enough talent and dedication to earn himself a contract with Benetton for the remainder of the 1991 season. His first two full seasons yielded a victory each and many more podiums for the German driver in the Benetton team. In the following season, controversy flowed throughout the year with Ayrton Senna's death and mostly the issues surrounding the Benetton Ford B194 - Two disqualifications, two exclusions and two retirements .However, the rest were all either 1st or 2nd places. The domination showed by the car and driver led to Schumacher's first title. The following season in 1995 was less dominant yet also thankfully less controversial. 10 points more than his haul for 1994 left Michael as the clear champion of 1995 and gave him the accolade of double world champion. 1996 was the first of 11 years spent with the Scuderia Ferrari team. The car was a clear second fiddle to Williams who were left to scrap for the title amongst themselves.
1997, however, saw a whole different playing field. Not only were Ferrari the title challengers they weren't 12 months ago, but a second Schumacher burst onto the scene, again driving for the Jordan team. Michael went toe-to-toe with eventual world champion Jacques Villeneuve with a collision at the final race deciding the outcome with the Canadian Villeneuve on top. The collision also meant that despite 5 victories and 78 points, he lost the title. Younger brother Ralf scored one solitary podium and a further 5 points finishes. Ralf finished ahead of Michael after the race stewards deemed Michael should be disqualified from the whole 1997 Formula One Season.
1998 and 1999 each yielded podiums for Ralf and victories for Michael. In 1998, however the Ferrari lacked pace compared to the McLaren. By contrast, Michael looked a dead certain bet for the 1999 world championship until brake failure in Silverstone ruined his hopes for the season as he was sidelined until Malaysia, the penultimate round of the season. This again meant that the pair were closely aligned in the standings, Michael pipping Ralf to P5 by a mere nine points However, considering Michael was absent for seven races, the gulf in class was larger in practice than on paper.
The new millennium brought home a larger amount of success for both Schumachers, with Michael sealing his first of many titles for the Scuderia and the first drivers and constructors double for the team since 1979. Ralf, however, spend the first year of the millennium scoring fewer points than the season prior, albeit ending the standings one place higher in 5th place.
In 2001, Ralf achieved his first win and in doing so collected the first sibling 1-2 as he led Michael over the line in Montreal. After 7 titles, 91 wins and 155 podiums (including the 2002 season where he failed to finish off the podium all year long) from Michael he retired at the end of the 2006 season. By this point Ralf had notched up impressive yet minor achievements compared to his brother with 6 wins and 27 podiums. Ralf went on for one more year in 2007 but lacked consistency, before being dropped by Toyota. After failing to secure another F1 seat, he moved to DTM for 2008 thus ending his career at the pinnacle of motorsport and at a shadow of his brother’s success. After Felipe Massa's accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, Michael was on standby to race for Ferrari from the European Grand Prix at Valencia until Massa's return. Sadly this was put off due to neck injuries from a motorcycle accident. This subsequently left Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella to replace Massa for the remainder of the season instead.
All this must have given Schumi the F1 bug as for the 2010 season he returned, driving three seasons with the Mercedes team. He had little success and was consistently outshone by team mate Rosberg. In the three seasons he claimed a solitary pole position and a single podium finish in 2012 with a P3 at Valencia. Despite having 19 season in the top of the sport ,only three seasons didn't contain a pole position, race win, fastest lap or podium for Michael (these been 1991, 2010 and 2011)
Pair 5. Ayrton and Bruno Senna (Uncle and Nephew)
Look back in the archives of F1 and you will see it littered with great champions, people who can be considered the best ever in the sport. The man who Is considered by many to be at the very top is the late Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna. Debuting in 1984 for backmarker Toleman, Senna shocked the world and McLaren star driver Alain Prost by taking a second place at Monaco. The Brazilian would have won the race had it not been stopped on the request of drivers including Prost.
This would only be the first of many fantastic drives, particularly at Monaco for Senna. Driving for Lotus between 1985 and 1987 he won six races, two in each season, and backed it up with 22 podiums to achieve two fourth places and a third in the drivers championship standings over the three years. His time with Lotus ended with disqualification from second place due to wider than permitted brake ducts.
His relationship with Honda improved significantly over the course of 1987 and as a result he was signed up to drive for McLaren, who had just acquired Honda power for the following season, alongside Alain Prost, the guy he almost overhauled at Monaco four years earlier.
Come 1988, the pair dominated the field, Monaco the notable highlight where Senna outqualified Prost by 1.4 seconds and screeched away. The margin was of an epic scale before he crashed at Portier on lap 67, 11 laps from the finish. Over the season, Senna clocked up eight wins, Prost had seven and despite scoring fewer points over the season, Senna was world champion (this was as in 1988 the best 11 scores counted towards the championship due to e Cronin unreliability of the vehicles of that era, this resulted in Prost giving up three second places and handing the title to Senna).
1989 had similar dominance for McLaren-Honda. Despite losing more than one race that season, Prost and Senna were still the only two contenders for glory. Tensions between the Frenchman and Brazilian escalated as pre-race agreements were broken. The pair finally came together in Japan where at the final chicane Senna made the move on Prost. The move that would take the title fight to the finale at Adelaide, and Prost turned in making contact with his team mate. Prost retired immediately, but Senna carried on after a push start from the marshals. Senna's outstanding recovery saw him take P1 and take the fight to Australia.. However, post race the stewards deemed Senna to have made an illegal restart as he cut the chicane. The penalty applied on Senna was disqualification which consequently handed the title to Prost.
Senna only became more controversial the following season. At Suzuka, the Brazilian took pole from Prost. The Frenchman, who was now driving for Ferrari reeled the pole position side was the incorrect one. One unsuccessful appeal later Senna began the race fuming saying that he would be leading out of turn 1 no matter what happened and no matter whoever tried to stand in his way. Sure enough, Prost out dragged Senna off the start and heading into turn one the pair collided. Amid claims Senna had crashed into Prost deliberately, Senna was still crowned world champion.
Ferrari fell off for 1991 giving Senna an unrivalled title. Williams dominated 1992 and McLaren parted ways with Honda and as a result were off the pace of Williams again in 1993. For 1994 Senna signed for Williams and after two DNFs in the opening two round Senna took his third pole in three at San Marino and led the race until lap 7. His car veered into a concrete wall and the rest is history.
Bruno Senna was the Honda test driver for 2008. When Honda withdrew and Brawn took over, Senna came close to securing a race driver, before being beaten to the seat by countrymen Rubens Barrichello.
Senna made his F1 debut only 12 months later for new team Hispania Racing Team (HRT). The backmarker gave him no opportunities to score points, however, it did give him a foothold in the market. Renault took on his ability and saw points from Senna at the 2011 Italian Grand Prix where he finished in ninth place. Following Senna's first points finish he signed for Williams for 2012. This was his final yet most successful season in Formula 1. For the first time since the early 90s, we saw a Senna vs Schumacher battle as Bruno became a regular points scorer by finishing half the races in the top 10 including a highlight of 6th in Malaysia. Despite a good season he was dropped in favour of Valtteri Bottas for 2013 and moved to Formula E for the inaugural 2014-15 season.
Pair 6. Keke and Nico Rosberg.
In 1979, a 28-year old made his debut for one of the back of the grid teams, a move that attracted absolutely no media attention whatsoever. The Finn, Keke Rosberg, spent 1978 and 1979 with no points - position 9 and 10 were his best two results. In 1980, Keke signed for Fittipaldi and finally took his first points in Formula 1, a podium finish on debut in Argentina. But this season proved frustrating as he went from having the pace to not. Only one more points finish in Italy hid beneath a season of unreliability and failures to qualify. In 1981, Rosberg again failed to score points but something incredible was supposed to happen.
The Finn, who was yet to win a Grand Prix, was chosen to replace retiring former world champion Alan Jones. At a top team Rosberg showed off his true speed with another points finish on debut, this time a P5 in South Africa. A disqualification in Brazil was sandwiched by the South Africa result and Rosberg's first second place in United States West. A political war led to Rosberg failing to show up at San Marino. Later, he showed his calibre with podiums in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria before he finally achieved his first victory in Formula One at the 1982 Swiss Grand Prix. His 44 points haul left him as a world champion in his first season with a top team.
Sadly, luck soon ran out for Rosberg as he would never reach the heights of 1982 again. A fifth and eighth place in '83 and '84 with one win in each season were not the same highs he enjoyed in his title year. 1985 saw something of a resurgence in form for Keke who achieved a new personal best with two wins in a season. They along with three other podiums contributed to his 40 points haul and third in the standings, he ended his career in 1986 driving for McLaren. Here, he scored one podium and ended his time in F1 with sixth place in the standings and 22 points.
20 years later, however, Rosberg returned to Williams and to Formula 1. Nico Rosberg, son of Keke, raced under a German nationality rather than Finnish like his father. At the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix, Nico's debut, he scored points and became the youngest driver to set fastest lap in a grand prix. Inconsistency plagued his early years in the sport. In 2008, he took his first podium in Australia and at Singapore he led a race for the first time. He went on to finish second despite receiving a 10 second stop-go penalty for pitting while the pit lane was closed following Nelson Piquet Jr's crashgate scandal.
All these experiences led Rosberg to a consistent 2009 where he almost scored points every race. He looked destined to win in Singapore, however, he made an error leaving the pits as he crossed the white line, thus incurring a penalty that took the chance of a first win away. A new decade led to a new dawn for Nico who moved to Mercedes alongside the returning legend Michael Schumacher. Nico stood up well to his team mate outscoring him in the first two years they were together. Podiums were slightly more regular for Rosberg, however that first victory still eluded the German. In 2012, the Mercedes team did more of the same, built a fantastic car for the first half of the year which was massively off the pace come the seasons end .Despite this, Rosberg made the most of his early pace by claiming his maiden win in the sport at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. The same weekend he also took his first Pole Position. A second place in Monaco was his only other highlight in a season where Schumi had all the qualifying pace and neither had it in race trim.
2013 saw the beginning of the dominant partnership of this era - Rosberg and Hamilton. Rosberg drew first blood as in Monaco as he led every single lap to take victory. He then achieved victory in Great Britain, a race plagued with tyre failures and then gearbox issues for Vettel. Lewis kept his record of a victory in every season of his career by securing the win in Hungary which contributed to Rosberg finishing behind his teammate at the close of the season. 2014, however, was all Mercedes with the dominant W05, that won all but three races. There was a real dogfight between the Brit and the German. Rosberg has arguably more luck over the course of the season ,however, Lewis stormed through to win the title. 12 months later he won again having had a stellar season defeating Nico with races to spare. Rosberg has the momentum yet, Lewis the status heading into 2016. So, the question is... Can Rosberg finally take the top spot over 21 races or will it be three in a row for Lewis?
One for the Road: Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve
We couldn't leave out the only other pair including a world champion and two fantastic drivers, Canadian father-son team Jacques and Gilles each found success in very different eras.
Gilles was a star from day one. Spending his first year in F1 driving for two teams was not uncommon back in the 70s, but when those two teams are McLaren and Ferrari you can tell something is special about the driver. Gilles may not have scored points instantly but that means nothing. Second season stardom saw Gilles took two podiums including a home race win at Canada on his way to ninth in the standings: Three victories, four second place finishes and one other points finish was hardly a poor haul and it proved crucial in Gilles's title charge in 1979. While he may have not found the ultimate prize - although he did play a crucial role in teammate Jody Scheckter -, he showed once more why he was a class act and a champion of the future.
While Gilles was improving, his car wasn't. 1980s was a shocker and although 1981 was an upturn with two race wins, he was still unable to improve on the previous season as he only recorded four points finishes. While the 1982 car was unreliable initially, Gilles scored his first podium of the year, and his last ever, in San Marino with second place. The following race in Belgium, he died in a qualifying accident, a stark and tragic reminder of how unsafe our beloved sport was, and in some cases, still is.
When Jacques debuted for Williams in 1996 alongside Damon Hill he instantly looked quick. He would have won on debut had an oil leak not slowed him up so much that Hill passed him for the win. Villeneuve set a new record for most wins in a debut season with four and was the first driver to finish second in the standings in his debut season - both were matched by Lewis Hamilton 11 years later.
Despite Hill being more experienced than Villeneuve. he was pushed out of the team for 1997 as Williams made space for talented German Heinz-Harald Frentzen. 1997 saw a huge eight podiums, seven of which were race wins. He was in a tight season long battle with Ferrari's Michael Schumacher which came to an end in controversial circumstances. The pair collided at the finale in Australia, and Schumacher was subsequently disqualified from the entire 1997 season, handing the title to Jacques.
Eleven race wins in two seasons, Villeneuve looked like a true legend. Sadly Williams fell off the cliff with Renault's withdrawal and a money motivated move to B.A.R in 1999 left him with a car that was far from capable of a title win. Only four more podiums in eight seasons showed how far Jacques fell down the order. He was replaced in 2006 by a young Pole called Robert Kubica, by which time Villeneuve's reputation was in tatters. In some ways it seems, considering the sharp decline Jacques suffered, the fate aligned so he could pick up the world championship his father deserved yet never survived to lift. A touching momenta if so.
When you look over the history, it seems the elders have the advantage. No matter how much you win, the talent to drive an F1 car quickly is not quite as genetic as eye colour. While the parents ,however, seem to have the upper hand the phrase 'you can't win anything with kids' is proven untrue with Damon (Hill) and Jacques (Villeneuve) winning world titles, for the future pairings it's fair to say we could have some fascinating and tough battles between them."
by Matthew Gannon