After eight seasons in F1, both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have two World titles to their name but the similarities do not stop there.
While the Verstappen v Hamilton debate is one of the most polarising topics in the world of F1 fandom, it would be hard for those with a foot in either camp to suggest that both are not amongst the best drivers of their generation.
Hamilton stormed into F1 and was two points away from being the only driver to win the World Championship in their rookie season. The Brit would not have to wait long though as he overcame Felipe Massa to win the 2008 title.
In 2021, it was Hamilton who was defeated with Verstappen claiming his first Championship before adding another in dominant fashion the following year.
One of the biggest differences between the drivers following their eighth season in the sport is the age in which they reached the milestone. Hamilton was one year away from his 30th birthday while Verstappen is still only 25, again highlighting how young the Dutchman was when he broke into the sport.
Verstappen also has more wins than Hamilton did at this point having won 35 to date, two more than Hamilton had achieved. In fact, ahead of his eighth season in the sport, Hamilton had won just 22 races but the seven-time World Champion soon picked up the pace with an average of 10 wins a season between 2014 and 2021.
In terms of pole positions, it is Hamilton who is far ahead as he had started first on 38 occasions in his first eight campaigns, 18 more than Verstappen had. During Verstappen’s dominant 2022 season in which he won a record 15 races, he only started on pole seven times, two fewer than Charles Leclerc.
Fastest laps is another stat that is very close with Verstappen narrowly beating Hamilton with 21 to 20. Interestingly, more than half of Verstappen’s quick laps have come in the past two seasons.
In podiums, it is again the Dutchman in charge with 77 to Hamilton’s 71.
Hamilton v Verstappen key stats after eight seasons at-a-glance
Age: Hamilton 30-25 Verstappen
Titles: Hamilton 2-2 Verstappen
Wins: Hamilton 33-35 Verstappen
Poles: Hamilton 38-20 Verstappen
Fastest laps: Hamilton 20-21 Verstappen
Podiums: Hamilton 71-77 Verstappen
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Lewis Hamilton’s career variation gives Max Verstappen the edge but Dutchman has a long way to go
From the look of it, Verstappen has had a bright start to his F1 career and yet he is still some way off eclipsing the records of Hamilton.
The thing that works in the Dutchman’s favour is that aside from a season and a bit at Toro Rosso, Verstappen has largely spent his career at a team with ambitions for the title.
Meanwhile Hamilton went through a period late on in his McLaren days and then his first season at Mercedes were that was not the case.
After his world title win in 2008, he went the next five seasons without finishing inside the top three in the Drivers’ standings and his move to Mercedes looked as if that streak would continue.
In the end, the opposite happened as Hamilton went on a dominant run never before seen in Formula 1, propelling himself from talented driver to an all-time great.
With a four-year head start, Verstappen certainly has the time to match the lofty heights set by Hamilton but a greater question is perhaps whether he will want to.
It is almost a decade since he made his F1 debut but Verstappen has often made it clear he has no interest in racing into his 40s, a milestone that Hamilton looks likely to achieve should the rumoured two-year extension to his Mercedes contract be confirmed.
Whether he sticks around long enough to challenge Hamilton’s all-time record should not take anything away from the perception of Verstappen’s career and both he and the Mercedes man should be appreciated as two of the all-time greats.