But scratch the surface and there are plenty of similarities: controversial leaders, a never-ending hunt for new venues, and sponsorship deals bigger than some countries’ GDP.
They’re also two of the biggest sporting spectacles on the planet and guaranteed to pull in worldwide TV audiences. Here’s how the runners and riders of F1 2014 compare with the nations hoping to triumph in this summer’s World Cup.
Nico Rosberg - Argentina
Both have the tools at their disposal to conquer the world: for Nico Rosberg it’s the Mercedes W05, while for Argentina it’s a little fella named Messi. But each still needs to prove that they’re the complete package before getting their hands on the ultimate prize.
Lewis Hamilton - Brazil
Sometimes unsure of who or what they are meant to be, but when the stars align Brazil, like Lewis Hamilton, embody the pure brilliance of their sport. And in victory, both celebrate with the same joy as when they were kids doing it for fun.
Daniel Ricciardo - Croatia
Young and likeable, both have come a long way in a short space of time. Croatia were stars at their first World Cup in ’98, while Ricciardo went from back-of-the-grid newcomer in 2011 to race-winner in 2014. But can they take the next step and challenge at the very top level?
Fernando Alonso - Italy
Undeniably talented but sometimes held back by a Latin temperament and squabbles within the team. Still, given the right circumstances both have every chance of snatching a victory, particularly when their backs are against the wall.
Sebastian Vettel - Spain
Both are reigning champions, but cracks are beginning to appear and their crown looks set to slip. Their talent is clear, however, and we can expect a few dazzling displays from both this summer.
Nico Hulkenberg - Netherlands
Brilliantly talented, regularly demonstrating abilities that should have netted them multiple wins, and yet both remain without silverware on the biggest stage. Perhaps they’re just too nice?
Jenson Button - Uruguay
Though he’s probably never bitten a rival, Jenson Button is much like Uruguay: a former champion who can still beat anyone on his day. Both put in their best showings just when you think they’re down for good.
Valtteri Bottas - Japan
Young, fast and likeable, both Valtteri Bottas and Japan are yet to get out of second gear. If they do the results could be sensational; if not, mid-table mediocrity awaits.
Kevin Magnussen - Bosnia & Herzegovina
Newcomers hoping to make an impression on the big stage. Both have pedigree and talent, but can they fight the established order?
Sergio Perez - Portugal
There’s a definite element of genius in there, but overall this tends to be outdone by some more mediocre components. Capable of beating the best on their day, but not destined for the very top.
Felipe Massa - England
Once among the best, they looked decent again a few years back but are now scrapping to remain near the top - and often falling short. You know the ability is there, which makes it all the more frustrating when it’s hidden behind silly errors.
Kimi Raikkonen - Germany
Past champions who you fear may be set to wilt in the heat of this year’s battle. However, both can be mechanically consistent and should never be ruled out.
Romain Grosjean - Colombia
Once written of as too erratic, performances have improved significantly in recent times. However the loss of key weapons - Falcao for Colombia, a half-decent car for Grosjean - will blunt their respective challenges in 2014.
Jean-Eric Vergne - Ghana
Both probably missed their big chance last time around - Ghana by losing to Uruguay in the 2010 quarter-finals, Vergne by missing out on a Red Bull seat to former team-mate Ricciardo. But, on their day, both can still pull something special from the bag.
Daniil Kvyat - Belgium
The surprise package of 2014, Daniil Kvyat is young, talented and fearless. The Belgian squad matches those three qualities, but can they be the shock stars of the World Cup?
Jules Bianchi - Chile
Both are young and exciting prospects but will probably struggle to hit the big time. In Chile’s case this is due to a carefree adoration of all-out-attacking football; Bianchi, on the other hand, simply lacks consistency.
Adrian Sutil - Greece
Capable of getting things done on their day but, quite frankly, not very interesting.
Marcus Ericsson - Australia
Both are near-certain to be also-rans, but the odd flash of skill is not impossible. It is also possible that Marcus enjoys surfing and BBQs, but we can’t be sure.
Esteban Gutierrez - Nigeria
A strong performer at the junior levels who can't quite seem to hack it on the big stage. Now and then a breakthrough seems possible, but it's tempered by poor showings at the crucial moment.
Max Chilton - USA
Young, good looking and wealthy, but not quite up to top standard. Still, performances have improved in recent times.
Kamui Kobayashi - Ivory Coast
Once vaunted as stars of the future, the current crop of great Ivorian players are at the end of their international careers, making Brazil 2014 the last chance to shine. Similarly, Kamui Kobayashi is drinking in F1’s last chance saloon, hoping to return to the days he too was called a star of the future.
Pastor Maldonado - France
Which version of France will turn up this summer - the world beaters of ’98 and hard-grafters of ’06, or the catastrophic misfits of 2002 and 2010? We often ask the same of Maldonado, who can be a grand prix winner on his day, but is just as often courting disaster.