and son

That’s probably the most famous lyric from Cat Stevens’ 1970 hit ‘Father and Son’, which is all about going your own way and chasing your dreams. Fathers are often proud if sons follow in their footsteps, but sometimes it’s the last thing they want – especially if those footsteps tread a dangerous path. And the reverse often applies too, as sons are normally eager to carve out their own identities.

Carlos Sainz Junior, for example, said that he would never have set out to be a rally driver – even though he likes the sport – as the inevitable comparisons with his two-time world champion father would be too much. But now that Carlitos has proved a point in Formula 1, he won’t discount rallying in the future. Perhaps the first step was when he drove the zero car on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month: a course-opening road car that goes through the stages before the competitors. “My dad told me about 100 times to be careful, but I really loved the experience: it was a dream come true,” said Carlos Junior. “It’s definitely made me more excited to try and do something with rallying in the future, although it’s not the time yet…”
As the song goes: “I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy to be calm, when you’ve found something going on...”
Here are six more fathers and sons in motorsport inspired by Cat Stevens:

Father and son 01

Keke and Nico Rosberg
While completely different characters – the father was a chain-smoking playboy, the son a clean-living family man – in some ways Keke and Nico had parallel lives, each winning one Formula 1 title with the dominant team of the day before finishing their careers. However, Keke struggled on for four seasons after winning his 1982 title, never quite hitting the heights he had achieved before. Maybe that was one of the reasons why Nico decided to stop immediately after winning his title two years ago, but according to Nico himself it was simply that he had finally fulfilled his dream. Just like his father had 34 years earlier.

Graham and Damon Hill
The Rosbergs of course were only the second father and son duo to win the Formula 1 World Championship. The first was Graham and Damon Hill: Graham won the title twice, in 1962 and 1968, while Damon clinched it in 1996. The relationship between Damon and his father was undeniably complex; complicated further by the fact that Graham died long before his son ever got to race. But race he did – on bikes before switching to cars – and Damon too achieved his lifelong dream. The whole story is beautifully chronicled in Damon’s autobiography: one of the most intelligently-written and thought-provoking books that a racing driver has ever produced.

Niki and Mathias Lauda
Niki hit the heights of Formula 1, but what about Mathias Lauda? The Lauda name was both a blessing and a curse for Mathias, just as it had been for Niki many years earlier, but for entirely different reasons. With the Lauda family well-known in polite Viennese business society, it was not the expected thing to go racing. Mathias Lauda – born during his father’s temporary retirement from Formula 1 – instead carved out his own brand of success away from Formula 1, becoming a factory driver for Aston Martin in the World Endurance Championship and finally claiming the GTE Am title last year. The 37-year-old will never be as famous as Niki, but he too is officially a champion.

Father and son 02

Jean and Giuliano Alesi
Ferrari drivers are traditionally loved not for how much they win, but for the way they race. And while Jean Alesi, incredibly, only has one win in scarlet to his name, his passion for the sport means that he will remain one of the most loved Ferrari drivers of all time. Giuliano has inherited that same spark: with three wins in GP3 last year, he has delivered on the promise that elected him to the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016. If Giuliano goes all the way, it will be one of the most pre-destined stories in motorsport…

Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima 
Satoru was born into a farming family, but soon looked beyond tractors to end up in Formula 1, where he made his debut in 1987 at the relatively ripe age of 34, courtesy of Honda. The bad news was that his team mate was Ayrton Senna, which led to the Japanese driver’s reputation getting unfairly trashed. Nonetheless, Satoru’s son Kazuki came into Formula 1 full-time in 2008 as team mate to Nico Rosberg at Williams (and outqualified Rosberg at their first race together: which was actually at the end of 2007, following Alex Wurz’s retirement). Since leaving F1, Kazuki has proved his speed in sports cars with Toyota. That’s just as well, as this year he gets Fernando Alonso as his team mate. Satoru would know the feeling.

Petter and Oliver Solberg
Petter Solberg won the 2003 World Rally Championship with Pirelli and Subaru – and now there’s another Solberg on the block, only much younger. Oliver Solberg is just 16 yet already seems to have everything it takes to emulate his famous father (who is still competing in World Rallycross, by the way). Last year, Oliver enjoyed his World Rally Car debut at the Bologna Motor Show with Pirelli – and he certainly made an impact, thanks to a spectacular roll as well as some astonishing speed.

Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve
He was only young when his father died, but Jacques no doubt remembers being bundled into Gilles’s helicopters or sports cars as a boy, and so being exposed to the sorts of speeds and antics that for him became an entirely normal part of growing up. Probably for that very reason, he adapted seamlessly from Formula Atlantic to Indycars to claim the title in 1995. From there, he finished second in his first Formula 1 season (1996) and went on to claim the title in 1997. Since leaving F1 at the end of 2006, he’s turned his hand to pretty much everything since: from Le Mans, to rallycross, to Formula E, to pop singing. His 2007 album, Private Paradise, is still available for purchase now.

Father and son 03

Jos and Max Verstappen
No story of this nature would be complete without a mention of Jos and Max Verstappen. Both set Formula 1 on fire: Jos when his Benetton famously burst into flames during a pit stop at Hockenheim in 1994, Max with a sensational win on his Red Bull Racing debut in 2016. His victory taken when only 18 years and 228 days old is just one of the many records that Max has already broken.

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