Family Connections in Motorsports: The Case of Formula One

Craig A. Depken
II
Peter A. Groothuis
& Kurt W. Rotthoff

Within-family career following is common in many occupations, including law, politics, business, agriculture, medicine, entertainment, and professional sports. For children who enter the same career as their parents there are several potential benefits: physical-capital transfer, human-capital transfer, brand-name-loyalty transfer, or nepotism. In Formula One (F1) auto racing, career following is also common; many drivers follow their father or brother into racing. Using a panel describing F1 drivers from 1950–2017, we find that brothers of drivers appear to benefit from human capital transfer and nepotism, and that sons gain little from human capital transfer and do not enjoy nepotism. We do find that only the best drivers have sons who follow them into racing, suggesting that sons can extend the brand name-loyalty perhaps long after their fathers have retired.

JEL Codes: L83, Z20

Open Access