Formula One: Three Great Family Dynasties

Formula One has a history steeped in legacy. The greats of the sport are lauded for their performances on the track long after their days behind the wheel are over.

It is a proud, traditionalist sport where legacies are handed from one generation to the next – perhaps more than any other in the professional landscape.

Family is at the heartbeat of Formula One as fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews have been linked together in success.

We’ll now look at the most successful dynasties in the sport, looking at whether the traits have been passed on from generation to generation.

Graham And Damon Hill
Graham made his Formula One bow in 1958 at the age of 29, only five years after passing his driving test.

He competed for Lotus Racing in the 12th season of the sport, making a minimal impact. It was a similar story in the following year, although a move to the Owen Racing Organisation kickstarted his career in 1960.

Two years later, Hill claimed the Drivers’ Championship, which included a triumph in the South African Grand Prix to clinch the crown.

Hill finished second three years in a row after his victory, notably finishing second in the Drivers’ Championship in 1964. He moved back to Team Lotus in 1967 and enjoyed one more run to the title in 1968 by claiming three victories.

Graham started his own team in 1973 called Embassy Racing. However, the team and his life were cut short when he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 45 in 1976.

Damon followed in the footsteps of his father, beginning his career in the International Formula 3000. He competed at that level for four seasons before a move to Formula One occurred in 1992.

He did not make an impact in his first term for Motor Racing Developments before moving to Williams in 1993. There, he found his form and finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, collecting his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

In 1994, Hill duelled it out with Michael Schumacher for the crown in the final race of the season. Only one point separated them at the Australian Grand Prix, where it would have taken a bet calculator to break down their odds.

A crash by the German seemed to have handed the crown to Hill. However, Schumacher collided with the Brit in an attempt to get back on the track. The crash knocked both men out of the race, handing the title – controversially – to Schumacher.

The German won the title again in 1995, although Hill was the best of the rest in second. Hill finally got the edge on his rival with his triumph in 1996, winning eight of the 16 races to claim the crown.

His career petered after the success, competing in only three more seasons before he retired from the sport at the age of 39.

Gilles And Jacques Villeneuve
Gilles made his entrance into Formula One in the 1977 season for McLaren after catching the eye of James Hunt.

He appeared in only one race for McLaren before moving to Ferrari, beginning at the end of the term in his home Grand Prix in Canada, finishing in 12th. The Canadian earned his first podium at the Austria Grand Prix before making his breakthrough on home soil.

Villeneuve put forward a fine performance, surging through the field and capitalising on mistakes from his rivals to claim the victory. He carried that forward into the 1979 campaign, which would be the best season of his career.

The Canadian won three races out of the 15 contests, but it was not enough to clinch the Drivers’ Championship, losing out to his Ferrari team-mate Jody Scheckter.

Gilles finished second in his last race at San Marino before his death at the age of 32 in a collision in qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.

Jacques made his first appearance in Formula One in the 1996 campaign, joining Damon Hill at Williams. He enjoyed an impressive start to his career, placing in second twice in his opening three races before securing a maiden triumph at the European Grand Prix.

Further victories followed at the British, Hungarian and Portuguese Grands Prix, although he missed out on the crown to his Williams teammate.

Most betting sites would have counted him out after his near miss. However, the Canadian returned to triumph in the following season, claiming the title by fending off Schumacher over the course of the term and in the final race at the European Grand Prix.

He defeated the German by three points after finishing third in the contest after Schumacher was found guilty of dangerous driving.

Villeneuve became the first Canadian to win the Drivers’ Championship, and although his career failed to hit the high notes after his triumph, he will always have a place in the history of the sport.

Keke And Nico Rosberg
Keke made his journey to Formula One the long way around, competing for four years in the European Formula Two Championship.

He got his first opportunity at the highest level of the sport in 1978 when he split time between Theodore Racing Hong Kong and ATS Racing.

The Finn impressed enough to get a shot with Wolf Racing the following year, although he was not able to make an impact. Keke continued to bounce around the lower realms of Formula One teams before earning a spot on the Williams team for the 1982 season.

He seized his opportunity, producing a consistent campaign that put him in position to snatch the Drivers’ Championship with three races remaining.

His maiden triumph came at the perfect time at the Swiss Grand Prix, moving him ahead of Didier Pironi and Alain Prost. Keke saw out the season with two solid performances, claiming the crown ahead of his rivals.

In an era that contained Niki Lauda and Prost, winning the Championship was a huge achievement for the Finn, although he couldn’t reach the high point again.

Nico’s career began on a similar path to his father’s, rising through the ranks of Formula 3 and GP2 before earning his spot on Williams’ team for the 2006 season.

He endured four underwhelming seasons with the team, earning only two podium finishes in the 2008 campaign. His move to Mercedes brought life to his career, making his breakthrough in 2012 with his maiden triumph at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The German was in the right place at the right time in 2014 for Mercedes’ rise to the top. He played second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, although he was able to place second in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

However, 2016 was to be his year, as Rosberg edged his duel with his teammate to defy the sports betting odds to take the crown in the final race at Abu Dhabi.

It was the last meet of his career, although a third generation of Rosbergs could have a run at the crown in the future.