The F1 offspring looking to emulate their famous fathers.
Irishman Derek Daly was an F1 driver between 1978 and 1982, debuting at the U.S Grand Prix West for Hesketh and bowing out at Cesars Palace GP for Williams. That his F1 career both began and ended in America is rather fitting, for it’s where Daly subsequently made his home and where his son Conor was born in 1991; Daly Jr thus races under the stars and stripes rather than the Irish tricolour.
And he’s good. Really, very good. He won American series Formula Star Mazda last year and in 2011 combines a partial season in Indy Lights with a full-scale assault on GP3. In the three Lights races he’s run so far Daly has registered one win, a runner-up spot and two fastest laps. Not bad.
Of all the people in this article he’s the one this writer would top for F1. He’s quick (handy) and, perhaps more importantly, he’s American. 2012 sees grand prix racing return to the States at the all-new Austin-based facility and you have a feeling they’ll want a homegrown driver there for the second or third running of that race. Daly would be ideal.
Son of two-time grand prix winner Patrick, 20-year-old Adrien Tambay has looked quick in whatever championship he’s been thrown in to, usually fighting for top positions right from the off. Last year he joined the GP3 Series at the penultimate round in Hungary, and at the season closer at Spa scored his maiden win.
2010 also saw him winning races in Auto GP, and he’s back there this season, thus far registering two second place finishes and sitting fourth in the championship. Part of the Gravity Sports Management outfit – which is owned by Renault F1 bosses Genii and oversees the careers of Jerome d’Ambrosio and Romain Grosjean – Tambay could well emulate his old man by making it to the pinnacle of the sport.
We’ve two sons of F1 legends to tell you about now, neither of whom will ever grace a grand prix. Unless something bizarre happened of course; something like aliens abducting the entirety of the current grid.
First up, Nicolas Prost, son of four-time F1 champ Alain, who started his racing career at the comparatively ancient age of 22. His first success was winning the Euroseries 3000 title in 2008 (beating a host of drivers several years his junior and themselves not much to shout about), which he followed up with a bit of A1 Grand Prix that winter. He’s since switched his focus to sportscar racing, and last weekend finished as the highest-placed petrol runner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. No, it’s not quuite the same as beating Aytrton Senna in equal machinery, but it’s probably a lot of fun nonetheless.
NexT up we have Matthias Lauda, son of triple F1 champ Niki. Like Prost Jr the Austrian came to racing late, debuting at 21 with a seat in Formula Nissan 2000. Drivers who can skip karting altogether and prove immediately quick in single-seaters are rare, and unfortunately for Matthias he isn’t one of the. A season in GP2 back in 2005 proved he simply didn’t have what it takes to ever consider an F1 career, and he subsequently turned his attention to tin-tops, running four seasons of DTM between 2006 and 2009. He wasn’t much cop here either: he scored six points in 41 races and now races in the somewhat less demanding Porsche Supercup.
Adrian Campos Sr wasn’t all that successful as a racer (the less said about his time as an F1 team owner the better) and his boy, Adrian Jr, is yet to show any signs of bettering him. The Spaniard raced in Indy Lights last season, ending the campaign strongly but failing to make the podium. For 2011 he returned to Euorpe to drive for his old man’s Auto GP team, but a shunt in practice for the opening round his ruled him out for some time.
18-year-old Kevin Magnussen, son of one-time Stewart Grand Prix driver Jan, is another looking to follow his old man in to F1. As well as looking a lot like Jan Kevin is also following a similar career path. Now running in British F3 for Carlin – who have replaced the Stewart team Jan drove for as the series’ dominant force – he’s a member of McLaren’s driver development programme, just like his dad. If he can impress in F3 then fail to perform on the big stage this definitely will be a case of like father like son, though obviously we don’t wish that on the youngster.
When Jackie Stewart gave Magnussen Sr his marching orders the man to replace the Dane was Jos Verstappen. As links go that’s a nice one, as the next up-and-coming racer we’re looking at is Max Verstappen, Jos’ 13-year-old son. The Dutch racer has shown well in karting, and you can be pretty sure he’ll step up to cars in a few years times.
Speaking of karters, young Hugo Hakkinen has recently kicked off his racing career. The 10-year-old son of double F1 champ Mika has the full backing of his old man – who spoke with great enthusiasm when Badger asked him about his lad’s racing – and could be a good long-term bet for a second generation grand prix racer.
Finally, we make mention of Josh Hill, who can claim not just a world champion dad in 1996 title winner Damon but also a mighty successful grandfather in double champ Graham. No pressure there then.
Josh started his racing career in 2009 (like Damon he skipped karting) and after two seasons in British Formula Ford now races in the Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship. A race winner in the Ford machines, he’s been a consistent points scorer in the Renault’s this season but is yet to score a podium. Whether he can follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and land an F1 drive some day is tough to say. You worry that he missed out by not racing karts, but as far as genes go this lad is second to none. His name will help, and it’ll be interesting to chart his progress over the next few years.
So there you have it – the F1 kids looking to emulate their dads and one day join the grand prix grid. Who will make it, who will defend the family name with honour and who will go all Nelson Piquet Jr? Only time will tell.