1. Sebastian Vettel: Michael Schumacher – Yes, I know he’s still active, but the similarities are uncanny. Success at a young age, backing from an F1 team owned by a non-automaker company (Benetton then, Red Bull now), and LOTS of speed.
2. Mark Webber: Riccardo Patrese – Raymondu was spot on here. Both have good pace in good cars, but have encountered too much misfortune to make full use of it. When the fortune did go their way, it was against teammates that were very difficult to beat.
3. Jenson Button: Denny Hulme – This one is interesting for me. Both for me are underrated because they’ve only taken one title apiece, but many forget that both beat their much more illustrious (and famous) teammates. Button beat Hamilton last year, Hulme beat none other than Sir Jack Brabham to the 1967 title.
4. Lewis Hamilton: Nigel Mansell – They’re currently alike in terms of aggressiveness (and success rate). Unlike Nigel, though, Lewis won his first title young, and has lots of time to win more.
5. Fernando Alonso: Alain Prost – This one’s a slam dunk for me. Alonso isn’t the type who’ll go out and try to win every race. But in every year where Alonso won the title (or came close), it was because of his stunning consistency and racecraft. Think about it – they won’t always win, but they will always bring the car as high as anyone can. So while their rivals kept dropping points due to unreliability or driver error, they were always there to pick up the spoils.
6. Felipe Massa: Carlos Reutemann – Both are South Americans who had a rough start to their careers, but fought back to contend for a title. Both also came THIS close to winning a title, but were never the same after falling short.
7. Michael Schumacher: Niki Lauda – Admittedly, this one is a bit of a stretch, but it’s the closest comparison I can make. Michael didn’t exactly get burned like Niki, but you can make a decent case for this. Both saw the most success at Ferrari (in fact, I think these two drivers gave Ferrari most of the success they saw in F1), and both made comebacks after their first retirement. Michael’s comeback isn’t quite on the same level as Lauda’s (yet), but who knows what Year 3 will deliver. That said, Michael’s comeback is already more successful stats-wise than the comebacks of Villenueve, Mansell (Australia 94 notwithstanding), and Jones – World Champions all.
8. Nico Rosberg: Jochen Mass – Both are Germans with good speed behind them, but when they got their chance at a front-running team, neither have really shown anything that would mark them out as future Champions. Nico might still be able to avoid Mass’ fate of just 1 GP win if he gets a better car, but he needs to do better with what he has now to get that chance.
Will give more later. :)