Written by Alessandra Leporati, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Either on two or four wheels, Formula1 or MotoGP, World Motocross Championship or WRC, there is nothing better for a father than to see his son shine in the same discipline that saw him be one of the protagonists of, years ago.
The debut of Liam Everts in Red Bull KTM MX2 in 2023 is the starting point of our reflection. We keep talking about drivers such as the Everts, the Sainz, the Schumachers, the Solbergs, the Rovanperä duos, and the Doohans, and we do not understand if we have travelled back in time to the previous century, or if, effectively, the decades fly by and the new generation start to approach the great stages.
There are many sons that have followed the footsteps of their fathers, both in the past and the present. Some have followed the footsteps of the father, as Kalle Rovanpera (or in some rare cases of the grandfather, like Everts), meanwhile others have tried different tracks, such as Jack Doohan, the F2 driver, son of Mick Doohan, the five-time 500cc World Champion.
Talking about Motocross, the Everts family is one of the most famous, if not the most famous of all. It is attributed to Grandpa Harry, four-time World Champion, the beginning of the triptych of Everts at the top of the World Motocross Championship. Apart from all the titles won, he is also lauded for having helped his son Stefan Everts approach the Motocross world. There has been no one as successful as him: Ten world titles (six in MX1, three in 250, and one in 125), 101 Grands-Prix won, and 165 career podiums. Now, it is up to Liam Everts, 18 years old, to keep up the legacy of the Everts’ family in the Motocross World Championship.
When we hear the surname Rossi, we instantly think about one name: Valentino.
Nine titles in the MotoGP World Championship aren’t enough to describe who The Doctor has been, and still is for Italian and worldwide motorsport. Having been at the top of this sport for over 20 years, he has transformed the VR46 into a brand, and his academy aims to support some of the best young drivers. And if it is true that for now Valentino has "set aside" bikes to switch to four wheels in the GT World Challenge Europe, with the GT3 class cars, it is equally true that this stems from his dad, Graziano, himself a motorcycle rider in the World Championship at the turn of the 70s and 80s, and a touring car driver in the late 80s, which led Valentino growing up in the world of motorsport.
Mick and Jack Doohan
The choice has been different for Jack Doohan. His father Mick Doohan was a five-time 500cc World Champion between 1994 and 1998. The Australian has a staggering 95 podiums, of which 54 from the top step of the podium, in 137 GP starts, translating to a podium rate of 69.34% across his career. He played a big part in shaping his son Jack’s career, the class of 2003 who chose for the four wheels. Climbing the ladder of motorsport, in 2021 he finished second in F3, before stepping up to drive for the Uni-Virtuosi team in F2. He entered the Alpine Academy and drove an F1 car for the first time, in Qatar.
Carlos Sainz Sr and Jr
Carlos Sainz Sr is one of the most famous rally drivers in history, a double World Champion driving a Toyota Celica GT-Four in 1990 and 1992, three, instead, the nuanced ones. The second wind of his career was marked by rally raids, in particular by the Dakar won in 2010 with Volkswagen, in 2018 with Peugeot, and in 2020 with Mini. Now, at the age of 60, he is also a driver in Extreme E.
Carlos Sainz Junior started by driving karts, making it through Formula Renault and GP3. He approached F1 in 2015 with Toro Rosso, now Alpha Tauri, and, following impactful stints with Renault and McLaren, he secured a drive at Ferrari. He took his first win in Formula One at Silverstone in 2022, in his 150th race in the sport.
Michael and Mick Schumacher
Only few other drivers in the world have a weighted legacy on their back, such as the case of Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 World Champion Michael. When Mick was born - 22nd March, 1999 - his father Michael had already won two World Championship with Benetton, and was in his fourth season driving for Ferrari. It is between the years 2000 and 2004 that the Schumacher family lived the most fascinating era, with little Mick witnessing the triumphs of his father, he will for sure remember Michael’s return in F1 with Mercedes, from 2010 to 2012, before the ski accident on 29th December, 2013. From that moment Mick, in the highlight of his rise, sportingly speaking, grows without the advice of his dad Michael. Winner of European F3 in 2018, thanks to a strong second half of the season, he followed it up by winning the Formula 2 Championship in 2020. His efforts were rewarded with a seat at Haas, the following year in F1. Sixth place in Austria in 2022 is so far Mick’s best finish and we wish him the best of luck for his, at the moment uncertain, future.
The Alesi Duo
Having entered the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016, Giuliano Alesi only had one chance to drive a Ferrari F1 car, during a private test at Fiorano in January 2021. However, his career seems to have taken a different road from that of his father. In fact, Jean Alesi has been able to collect 32 podiums in F1, only once on the highest step. A Ferrari driver from 1991 to 1995, he achieved his best result in the following two years with Benetton. After the Ferrari Academy, Giuliano never had his time to shine and to make the step up from F2. At the moment, he drives for the team Tom’s in Super Formula.
Continuing on the path of F1, Kevin Magnussen, the current Haas driver, undoubtedly has been more successful compared to his father, Jan Magnussen. The senior Dane only netted one point (sixth Canadian GP in 1998) and six top ten finishes between 1995 and 1998. Meanwhile, Kevin started his career with a podium and 55 points for McLaren in 2014, a year in Renault in 2016 and then the Haas drive from 2017, and an unlikely return in 2022. At the moment, we can consider him as a strong talent in the paddock. His father has been a multi-series veteran, with different driver experiences such as DTM, IMSA, and the 24h of Le Mans, winning the 24h race four times, and finishing runners-up four times.
Juan Pablo and Sebastian Montoya
He is only 16 years old, and still has a long road ahead, but it seems that Juan Pablo Montoya's son is already going through his growth path, and who knows, maybe one day he will reach the level of his father. The latter was an F1 driver during the early 2000s with BMW-Williams and McLaren-Mercedes. He finished third twice in the standings (2002 and 2003) during the Schumacher era, and earned seven victories during his career in F1. His international experience ranges from Nascar to Indycar, passing through Imsa, and concluding with Endurance. Well, Sebastian has several options to choose in which discipline to try to match his dad’s accolades
Jos and Max Verstappen
During the tête-à-tête between father and son, it could happen that the son will achieve greater success than his dad, this is the case of Max Verstappen. The sport’s newest double World Champion, Max Verstappen had taken his first win in F1 in his first race with Red Bull. At the time he was only 18, and took advantage of the infamous crash between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to get the first of many successes in his career, compared to only a seat for two-thirds of the season obtained by his father with Benetton in 1994. Jos Verstappen taught and educated Max to the point of sometimes talking about him as his "product". We have seen the full maturity of Max as man and driver in this past Formula 1 season, one that ended with the victory at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Harri and Kalle Rovanperä
Harri Rovanperä's rally career began in 1993 with Opel. He only achieved a victory in Sweden in 2001 for Peugeot, and had amassed 15 podiums achieved in the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of his career, a good number but significantly different compared to what his son Kalle is achieving on board the Toyota GR Yaris Rally 1. Born in 2000, and trained by his father, he started racing officially at the age of 14, in Latvia where a driving license is not a necessary requirement to participate in a rally. At the age of 16, he went to train in Italy, taking part in some races on asphalt with the Peugeot 208 R5, in a comic skit. After each special test, he used to exchange the seat with the navigator because he wasn’t authorised to drive on public roads, as he didn’t possess a driving license. The best results came on the dirt tracks at home. His rise has been a very rapid one: In 2017, he debuted in a WRC event; He won a hard-fought championship in the WRC 2 Pro class with Skoda Motorsport in 2019, and from 2020 he had made it into the top Toyota team, first with the Yaris WRC Plus, and now with the GR Yaris Rally 1, in which he dominated the 2022 World Championship to win it.
Yves and Pierre-Louis Loubet
Another athlete competing in the World Rally Championship (WRC) is Pierre-Louis Loubet, Ford M-Sport driver, driving the Puma Rella 1, and son of Yves Louet, Rally and Rally Raid driver during the 1980s and 1990s. Pierre-Louis surprisingly won WRC-2 in 2019, driving a Skoda Fabia R5, beating Kajetan Kajetanowicz. After a passage in the WRC Plus with the Hyundai team, he settled more quickly in the Puma Rally 1. The Frenchman took his best result with a solid fourth place In Sardinia. His dad Yves netted four podiums in the World Rally Championship: the first one coming for Alfa Romeo GTV6 Rothmans, in the hectic Tour de Corse, in 1986.
And yes, we cannot wait for the next generation of racing drivers’ sons to grace the world of motorsport in the future.