F1: It’s nepo-tastic!

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW, Silverstone, 2006The trend of Formula One drivers’ sons making their way into the sport is nothing new. World Champions Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve both had celebrated lineages, as did Michael Andretti, although he failed to match the achievements of father Mario by some way.

But the trend has taken off in a big way with the current generation of up-and-coming drivers. In fact, every Formula One champion of the 1980s has a son racing in some form of motor sport.

(Unfortunately it does seem to be only sons, so far…)

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Williams-BMW, 20032005 GP2 champion Nico Rosberg (son of 1982 champion Keke) has already made it into Formula One, of course.

2006 GP2 runner-up Nelson Piquet Jnr is the son of Keke’s old rival Nelson Piquet (champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987) and is set to join Renault as their test driver next season. He tested for Williams three years ago (pictured).

Greg, Nigel and Leo Mansell, 2006His father’s former team mate and bestest buddy Nigel Mansell is getting in on the act, too. Sons Greg and Leo contested the British Formula BMW championship this year and are expected to step up to Formula Three in 2007 courtesy of their father’s old sponsor Unipart.

Already in Formula Three this year is Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Ayrton. Bruno has had an average season, put firmly into the shade by rapid team mate Mike Conway, but has already been connected with the likes of Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The senior Senna’s arch-rival Alain Prost may have drastically severed his ties with Formula One after the collapse of his eponymous Grand Prix team, but he can’t keep son Nicolas out of a racing car. The younger Prost is racing in the Spanish Formula Three series.

Mathias Lauda, A1 Grand Prix, 2006Prost’s McLaren team mate for two years was Niki Lauda. Lauda’s son Mathias raced in GP2 last year with little success and moved to the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) for 2006. In between he raced in A1 Grand Prix where his rivals included, among others, Christian Jones, son of 1980 champion Alan.

There are plenty of non-champions raising racing sons, too. The British T-Cars series for young drivers features Alex Brundle and Jolyon Palmer, sons of Martin and Jonathan.

Next in the Andretti lineage in Marco, son of Michael, who recently won a round of the Indy Racing League for the first time.

With the exception of Vanina Ickx in the DTM (and Jacky Ickx’s daughter has suffered a poor season in her Audi A4) there are few daughters of former F1 drivers getting a break in motor sport.

But it can only be a matter of time. I wonder if Gina-Marie Schumacher has sampled a kart yet?

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