Family affairs aren’t anything new to Formula One. In fact, perhaps more than any other sport it’s chocked full to the brim of visible dynasties. There’s been Gilles and Jacques Villenueve, Keke and Nico Rosberg, Graham and Damon Hill. Even one of the early greats of Formula One, Alberto Ascari, was following in the footsteps of his father, Antonio.
That family ethos may have taken a hit this year with the Williams team - famously founded by Sir Frank then steered by daughter Claire - bidding a fond farewell to F1, but 2021 is certainly getting back on track on the family front. That thick vein of nepotism continues to pump potently as business and blood merge in the cases of Nicholas Latifi, Nikita Mazepin and Lance Stroll, but there are also a number of heartwarming family tales to be told with a trio of famous surnames potentially appearing on the grid together in 2021. These names have certainly been around the track more than once...
For a considerable amount of time it looked like Max Verstappen was going to smash the record for the youngest Formula One world champion, having broken onto the scene aged just 17, competing in F1 for more than half a season before obtaining a road driver's licence on his 18th birthday, before additional age restrictions for the competition were imposed.
Though that dream is dead for the now-23-year-old due to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ dominance and Red Bull’s failure to recapture the glory years of the early 2010s, the still youthful Max remains a dead cert to be numero uno in the future. Father Jos garnered a reputation as a very quick driver but was often let down by his car, and hit the heights only with a brace of back-to-back podiums in his first season with Benetton in 1994.
Max already has nine wins and 41 podiums under his belt, with the expectation of becoming the first Dutch (ok, Belgian-Dutch) F1 World Champion very real.
Pietro is the grandson of double world champion Emerson. The son of Christian, who had a three-year F1 career with Minardi and Footwork (scoring a total of 12 points). His great uncle, Wilson, raced alongside Emerson in Formula One between 1972 and 1975, peaking with a fifth place at the 1973 German Grand Prix, while his uncle Max Papis started seven grands prix for Footwork in 1995 before enjoying a successful career in Champ Car. His younger brother, Enzo, raced in FIA F3 this year, with a best finish of fourth at Mugello.
As one of two reserve drivers on the Haas team's books, when Romain Grosjean miraculously escaped the inferno in Bahrain with just burnt hands, heritage-rich Pietro Fittipaldi is the young man they called upon. Like Grosjean, the man he has temporarily replaced, Pietro is no stranger to dangerous circuit scrapes. His debut at the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa involved a power steering failure that slammed him into the wall at Eau Rouge. He was left with two broken legs.
Pietro may still be a young man at 24 years old, but grandpappy Emerson won the World Drivers' Championship in 1972 at the age of 25, a youngest F1 world champion record that he held for 33 years. It remains unclear if Pietro will get on the grid in ‘21 with the emergence of a certain other person on the list with Haas, but a solid start to his career in these last stages of the season will certainly enhance his credentials and maintain the family name in F1.
Surely this one needs no introduction. The name speaks for itself. The son of Michael and nephew of Ralf, at the beginning of December Mick Schumacher was announced to be taking a seat with Haas, graduating into Formula 1 from the second tier, and signing a multi-year deal to drive with the team in 2021.
Joining the American Ferrari-powered outfit of course continues the long relationship the Shumacher family has with the Prancing Horse, with Mick’s father Michael having won five of his seven world championships with the Scuderia in the early noughties. Whilst continuing to proudly represent his dad this year, such as when presenting Lewis Hamilton with one of his father's helmets as the Brit equalled Michael's GP win tally, in his early years Mick decided to avoid a lot of the attention as a nine-year-old racer by using a different surname to avoid detection. Instead of the famous Schumacher name, he went by the name Mick Betsch, the maiden name of his mother Corinna.
Joining the go-karting scene when only nine, he climbed through the ranks until he was entering National Championships at the age of 15. Then, he went by the name ‘Mick Junior’, finishing second in the German Junior Kart Championship. Despite the huge shadow he will be competing in, Mick Schumacher is still admirably carving out his own solid reputation based on his own individual skill, having won the F2 championship before he takes on F1 in 2021.