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Mick Schumacher – fathers and sons in F1

April 2, 2019

Mick Schumacher pulled out of the Ferrari garage at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain this morning to take part in his first official Formula 1 session under the watch of a glut of photographers and journalists desperate to get a glimpse of the latest Schumacher in the latest Ferrari – a combination that swept all before them in the first half of the 2000s with ten championships (drivers’ and constructors’) on the bounce that cemented Schumacher Snr’s place in Formula 1 history.

While his route to Formula 1 has been no doubt fast-tracked by his famous surname, a tough job lies ahead of him in following in the footsteps of his dad Michael, arguably the greatest F1 driver of all time.

He’s not the first second generation driver to make it into Formula 1, but surely none has ever experienced a more daunting task than to carry the weight of the Schumacher name – all 91 wins and seven World Drivers Championships – with them.

So how did the others compare to dad?

NB: Note how many of them have Williams connections!

Jack Brabham and sons Gary and David

‘Black Jack’ was a pioneer of Formula 1. When, as already two-time world champion, he founded his own team with which he won a third world championship it was as the first ever driver/team owner, a feat that would never be repeated.

Neither Gary, who failed to pre-qualify both races he entered in 1990 nor David, who found himself at a Brabham team in decline in the early 1990s and then paired with Roland Ratzenberger at Simtek in 1994 but would fail to score a point in two seasons managed to emulate Dad’s success.

Shoes filled? Not filled.

Mario Andretti and son Michael

Mario Andretti remains the last American driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix en route to the 1978 World Championship with Lotus. His son Michael arrived in Formula 1 in 1993 as the late great Ayrton Senna’s team-mate at McLaren in 1993 following much success in Indycar.

Sadly for the Andrettis, perhaps due to the added pressure that came with being the son of a racing legend and the direct comparison with three-time World Champion Senna in the sister McLaren Andretti would be released from his contract mid-season having failed to finish over half the races he started and failing to score in all but three in a car that Senna was taking to race wins.

Shoes filled? Not filled.

Graham Hill and son Damon

Son of Graham Hill – two-time world champion and one of F1’s greatest characters Damon Hill found himself thrust into Formula 1 in 1993 with World Champions Williams in the wake of Nigel Mansell‘s departure to Indycars.

After an inauspicious start, by the mid-point of the season Hill was able to match veteran team-mate Prost for speed and consistency en-route to second in the WDC, he should have won the 1994 championship but for some expert skullduggery by Schumacher, and would seal his first and only F1 title in 1996 to become the first ever second generation F1 champion.

Shoes filled? One shoe filled.

Keke and Nico Rosberg

Keke Rosberg took his Williams FW08 to the team’s second title in 1982, the highlight of an F1 career lasting eight years during which he stood atop the podium five times.

Nico arrived in F1 in 2006 with the same Williams team his father had driven for in the 1980s, and though he left to join Mercedes winless, he would go on to much success, latterly winning the F1 world championship with the German marque before promptly retiring to concentrate on other things outside of racing.

Shoes filled? Filled.

Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve

Gilles never quite managed to win the F1 crown, despite having a title winning car in 1979 when team-mate Scheckter beat him to the title and looking favourite in 1982 before being cruelly cut down in his prime.

He is still adored by the F1 watching public to this day, an so when son Jacques joined Williams in 1996 after winning the Indy500 and the IndyCar title there was much excitement.

Jacques delivered immediately taking the 1996 title to the wire before going one better in 1997, helping Williams to their last titles to date.

He never repeated the successes of 1996 and 97 however, and slipped further and further down the field before packing it all in to become a one-man headline writing machine.

Shoes filled? Despite a WDC, Gilles’ shoes remain unfilled.

Jan and Kevin Magnusson

Jan Magnussen’s F1 career started brightly but petered out after a couple of seasons in the midfield at McLaren and Stewart and so you could argue that his solitary point in Formula 1 was eclipsed by son Kevin on his F1 debut when he finished second in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.

However, Kevin has failed to match his debut podium in any of his four seasons since, and looks destined to remain in F1’s midfield ruffling feathers for the entirety of his career.

Shoes filled? Filled.

Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima

In 1987 Satoru Nakajima became Formula 1’s first full-time Japanese driver thanks to Honda’s insistence he drove the second Lotus-Honda  alongside Senna.

During his five seasons in the sport he managed to score 16 points with a career best Grand Prix finish of fourth place.

With echoes of his Dad’s entry into F1 son Kazuki joined Williams in F1 as part of the deal that brought Toyota engines to the Grove team. He didn’t fare quite as well as Dad with nine points scored in two full seasons with Williams with a best finish of 6th.

Shoes filled? They’re not shoes, they’re a kind of flimsy flip-flop, but they are filled flip-flops.

Jonathan and Jolyon Palmer

Jonathan Palmer was a driver of decent repute in the 1980s and 1990s despite never having the chance to compete in a top car, he would regularly be among the ‘best of the rest’ category we’re becoming used to nowadays.

His son Jolyon spent two seasons with Renault in 2016 and 2017 where he really wasn’t fancied much by a team whose main focus was team-mate Hulkenberg who clearly had more raw talent.

Shoes filled? Not quite filled.

Nelsons Piquet

Nelson Piquet, ex of Williams, won three World Championships in the 1980s, one courtesy of Williams, and mixed it with the greatest names in the sport – Senna, Mansell, Lauda, Prost

His son, Nelson jnr arrived in Formula 1 in 2008, and had a couple of seasons being outclassed by team-mate Alonso at Renault before being embroiled in the crashgate scandal that followed his sacking by the French equipe. He was never seen or heard from again.

Shoes filled? Shoes remain fully unfilled for now – Pedro Piquet readying himself to give it a try.

Jos and Max Verstappen

Despite bucketloads of talent and a championship winning car, Jos Verstappen quickly assumed the #2 driver role to Michael Schumacher at Benetton, and his F1 career, although lengthy – Jos spent eight seasons in F1 – drifted from then on.

Second generation Verstappen, Max, is a different story. He exploded onto the scene at the age of 17 becoming the youngest Formula 1 driver of all time, and his career has gone from strength to strength ever since.

He currently has five Grand Prix wins to his name and is tipped by many to become a multiple future world champion, with some commentators going so far as to suggest that the next era in F1 will be ‘the Max Verstappen era’.

Shoes filled? Well and truly filled to bursting. So filled are these shoes that a new pair might be required.

So from our ten father/son pairings, three: Damon Hill, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen (I may be being a tad unkind to JV, but Gilles is held in such high regard that I doubt anyone could fill his shoes) have been able to use the springboard given to them by their famous fathers to go on and emulate their success and status.

But none of those fathers were Michael Schumacher. Good luck Mick!


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