As with many other things, racing too tends to run within families. From top drivers racing around the world to club legends, lineage can be found at all levels in motorsport. The Rosberg and Hill families are among the most successful. Two generations went on to win the most prestigious title in all of racing, an incredible feat yet to be repeated.
By Harry Verolme
Today, the Formula 1 grid contains two drivers whose family members have previously raced in the series. Both Max Verstappen and Kevin Magnussen’s fathers have competed at the highest level of motorsport. Plenty of others, though, are slowly working their way towards filling their relatives’ shoes.
In fact, it is more apparent than ever that former F1 drivers are keeping their legacy alive by literally creating the next generation of racing stars. In this years FIA Formula 2 championship alone, about a quarter of the field is made up of names that will send viewers down a spiral of 90’s nostalgia. In this article, we take a look at all these youngsters climbing up the ladder.
Pietro Fittipaldi (Super Formula with B-Max Racing with Motopark)
For a 23 year old, Pietro Fittipaldi has raced in a lot of different cars. From winning the very last season of World Series Formula V8 3.5 to competing part-time in IndyCar and even driving in DTM, the Brazilian already seems to have done it all. 2020, though, could well be the year that Fittipaldi’s dreams of becoming an F1 driver go up in smoke. The grandson of double world champion Emerson gets a last chance of sorts in Super Formula with B-Max Racing with Motopark. He came sixth in the F3 Asian Championship this season.
Pedro Piquet (FIA Formula 2 with Charouz Racing)
As the son of three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson and half-brother of Nelson Jr., Pedro Piquet was very obviously born and bred to be a racer. At a young age, the Brazilian already showed signs of promise in his home country by becoming a double champion in Brazilian F3. The now 21 year old Piquet has since failed to live up to his name after shifting his attention to international series, but a handful of victories for Trident in GP3 and the renewed FIA F3 Championship have earned him a seat in F2 nonetheless.
Giuliano Alesi (FIA Formula 2 with HWA Racelab)
Unlike father and Formula 1 racewinner Jean, Giuliano Alesi hasn’t been particularly successful in the feeder series he’s competed in thus far. After three years in GP3 with Trident, the 20 year old Frenchman graduated to F2 in 2019 but was unable to keep up with the other rookies, managing no more than a single top-five finish in the very last race of the season. With new entry HWA Racelab, debuting alongside Hitech Grand Prix, Alesi hopes to prove his criticasters wrong in 2020.
Mick Schumacher (FIA Formula 2 with Prema Racing)
Nobody in any feeder series has more eyes on them than Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael. After a rather slow start in ADAC F4, Schumacher soon came to grips with the car and proved to be competitive in the Italian and German championship with Prema Racing, beating out both Juri Vips and Juan Manuel Correa. The very same happened in Formula 3, where the Ferrari junior driver
failed to impress in his first season, but won the championship a year later. If the German manages to continue this trend in Formula 2, his fellow competitors should be very scared of him in 2020.
Louis Délétraz (FIA Formula 2 with Charouz Racing)
Although Louis Délétraz (son of Jean-Denis Délétraz) performed at a rather impressive level at the start of his single seater career, the closer he got to a Formula 1 seat, the more his flame seemed to fizzle out. In three seasons of F2, the Swiss driver managed no more than five podiums and has yet to achieve his first victory in the series. Switching teams every year hasn’t made it easier for him to improve his performance, of course, but Délétraz hopes that his move back to Charouz Racing for the 2020 season can help him stand out among his peers, which just so happens to be one of the most competitive grids the discipline has seen in years.
Matteo Nannini (FIA Formula 3 with Jenzer Motorsport)
Dominantly winning the Formula 4 UAE Championship has helped guarantee this Italian’s future in motorsport. The nephew of former Minardi and Benetton driver and one-time Grand Prix winner Alessandro Nannini aims to make the most of his first year in Formula 3 with midfield outfit Jenzer Motorsport, where he’ll try to beat teammates Calan Williams and Federico Malvestiti.
Enzo Fittipaldi (FIA Formula 3 with HWA Racelab)
From what Brazilian driver Enzo Fittipaldi has showed so far, it appears the descendant of two-time F1 champion and grandfather Emerson might have the right skills to make it all the way to the top. The Ferrari junior driver fared especially well in 2018, when he combined the Italian and German F4 championship, finishing first and third respectively. Fittipaldi continued to impress the following year while competing in the brand-new Formula Regional European Championship. The rookie wasn’t able to match the near- unbeatable Danish driver Frederik Vesti in 2019 and became runner-up. In 2020, the 18 year old gets another chance to try to one-up his rival in Formula 3.
David Schumacher (FIA Formula 3 with Charouz Racing)
Much like his father Ralf, David too is the less successful member of the Schumacher family. Where cousin Mick has already crowned himself the champion of a respected single seater series and is starting his second season in F2, David Schumacher hasn’t quite been able to make his mark. The talent is definitely there, though, with the German driver racking up four wins in Formula Regional and ending up fourth in the standings, behind Frederik Vesti, Enzo Fittipaldi and reigning Toyota Racing Series champion Igor Fraga. With all four drivers graduating to F3 for 2020 and many others also aiming to make a run for the gold, the title fight will certainly turn out to be exhilarating.
Arthur Leclerc (Formula Regional with Prema Powerteam)
Being the younger brother of prodigious Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc, 19 year old Arthur Leclerc has a lot to improve if he wants to surpass his two-time Grand Prix winning sibling. Fortunately, the Monegasque driver has done relatively well for himself in 2019. By taking a victory at Hockenheim and achieving a fifth position in the standings of the German ADAC F4, Leclerc too has earned himself a spot in the Ferrari Driver Academy. Together with co-academic Gianluca Petecof, Leclerc will compete for Prema Powerteam in Formula Regional.
Juju Noda (Danish Formula 4 with Noda Racing)
It is not often that there is such a hype around a 14 year old racing driver, but in the case of Juju Noda the world has yet to find out if any of that is justified. With Noda’s move to Europe for 2020, the daughter of three-time Grand Prix driver Hideki gets her chance to prove criticasters wrong as she works towards racing in her very first season of Formula 4, specifically the Danish F4. Here, Noda will try to replicate the achievements that put her on the map – like setting a lap record at Okayama or driving Formula 3 machinery. If she’s able to live up to the hype, she might well be the next woman that makes it into Formula 1.
Sebastian Montoya (Italian Formula 4 with Prema Powerteam)
2020 is shaping up to be a big year for young Sebastian Montoya. After six years of racing karts in Europe and United States, the 14 year old Colombian talent has now joined Prema for a full season of Italian Formula 4. It’s going to be somewhat of a baptism by fire for the teenager, though, as he is part of the same team as Ferrari junior driver Dino Beganovic, Gabriel Bortoleto and Gabriele Mini – who is managed by the same agency as Charles Leclerc. Montoya will also run a series of selected races in the ADAC F4 Championship.
Max Salo (Japanese Formula 4 with Buzz Racing)
It is hardly a surprise that Mika Salo’s son Max will continue his racing career in Japanese F4. After a season in Russian SMP F4, the half-Japanese teenager moves to the other side of the globe to further develop his skills in Mygale machinery. Perhaps a successful campaign will see him return to Europe to close in on his dream of making it to Formula 1 one day.
Alister Yoong (T.B.A.)
Malaysian driver Alister Yoong, son of former F1 backmarker Alex Yoong is yet to make a lasting impression in single seaters, but aims to fill the shoes of his father nonetheless. Although Yoong was victorious in the 2019 F4 SEA Championship, the youngster hasn’t been able to share any other plans for 2020 after unsuccessfully competing in Round 4 of the F3 Asia Championship, where he retired during the first race.