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It's a family affair in the world of motor racing

Text by Yann BUXEDA

Latest update : 2010-03-12

Formula One celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, six decades in which a particular trend has developed: it’s a family affair. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look.

THE STEWARTS: Short-lived Jimmy, eternal Jackie

When James Robert Stewart arrived at Great Britain’s Grand Prix in 1953, the small world of Formula One had no idea that it would essentially be witnessing the passing of a torch between brothers. Driving a single-seater car for Team Scotland, “Jimmy” did not even reach the finish line, putting an end to his F1 career – but opening the door for his younger brother, Jackie.

In1965, Jackie scored his first Grand Prix victory and finished a strong third in the World Championship. Four years later, the younger Stewart carved himself a place in racing history with his first World Championship title. He would win two others, in 1971 and 1973, before retiring from racing.

THE HILLS: Graham and Damon

Graham Hill made his first appearance on the legendary and demanding Monaco circuit in 1958 at the age of 24. For the next two years, Hill raced with Team Lotus and two years later switched to BRM, with whom he won the World Championship in 1962.
For the next three seasons, Hill came in second behind Jim Clark (Lotus) before finally rejoining his old team in 1967. A year later, Scotland’s Clark was killed in an accident and Hill went on to win the World Championship for Lotus in his late teammate’s place.
28 years later, Hill’s son Damon stepped into his father’s shoes. In 1993, racing with Williams, he placed third, then second for the following two years behind young German prodigy Michael Schumacher. He took his first world title in 1996, still with Williams.

The Hills are the only family in Formula One to take home two world titles across the generation gap.

THE VILLENEUVES: Style and bad luck

Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve’s reputation sits comfortably at the top of Formula One’s hall of fame – not so much for his successes but for his panache on the circuit and his tragic end.

Out of 67 races, he ranked in only six. But Villeneuve was known and loved by fans of the sport for his flamboyant style -- though it was often this very attribute that prevented him from finishing his races at the front.

His taste for the extreme would be his undoing: in 1982, Villeneuve was killed in the qualifying rounds of the Belgian Grand Prix after a collision with Jochen Mass.

Fourteen years later, his son Jacques entered Formula One, driving the Williams Renault V10 and taking second place in the World Championships. He built on his success by beating double world champion Michael Schumacher the following year.
But his triumphs did not last: he transferred to BAR in 1999, but struggled to make his mark. In 2006, after two tumultuous seasons at Sauber, he left racing. In 2010 Villeneuve announced that he may sign with Stefan GP if a place comes up.

THE ROSBERGS: Four seasons at the bottom, new hopes for the top

After four seasons of finishing near the bottom of the pack, Finnish driver Keijo Erik “Keke” Rosberg quit team Fittipaldi in 1982, and went to Williams, which was equipped back then with a V8 Ford. It was with the V8 that Keke had an instant rapport; even though he only won one Grand Prix, his consistency throughout the season gifted him the 1982 Drivers’ Championships.

Four seasons – and no wins – later, Rosberg dropped out of Formula One. The relative anonymity of his final years seems to have been carried on by his son Nico, who drives under German colours (he has double nationality) and has yet to win a single Grand Prix.

However, Nico quit Williams this year to join Mercedes Grand Prix (formerly Braun GP), a team with an excellent track record of producing world champions.

THE SCHUMACHERS – Michael shines, leaving Ralf in the shadows

Holding seven world titles and 91 Grand Prix victories, Michael Schumacher is far and away the biggest success story in Formula One. After his first victories with Benetton-Renault (1994-1995), Schumacher went over to Ferrari, lifting the team’s reputations from a relatively long period in the doldrums.

Between 2000 and 2004, Schumacher took home five world titles. In 2006, he was back behind the wheel after coming in second to Spaniard Fernando Alonso the previous year. He then took a two-year retirement from driving. He has now signed up with Mercedes, Ferrari’s traditional enemy.

In Michael’s shadow is his younger brother Ralf, who despite successes has never shined like Michael. After a ten-year career (1997-2007), mostly with Williams, he nevertheless took home six wins and placed in 27 others.

Date created : 2010-03-12