Mark Webber asked fans of F1 to be more accepting of Max Verstappen, saying that he is a once-in-a-generation driver.
Verstappen won his first world championship in dramatic circumstances on the last race of the season. It was the culmination of many years of impressive performances and blistering pace, and he was a thoroughly deserving champion.
The Dutchman was always a stellar performer, but he never mounted a title challenge until 2021. He battled the best in the business in Lewis Hamilton, and ended up beating him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi GP.
The Red Bull driver’s form in 2021 was hailed by critics and fans, with many calling it one of the best champion seasons in recent memory. However, the perception of his is still divisive, with his rash driving and direct approaching alienating many fans.
However, Webber asked fans of F1 to be more accepting of Verstappen, saying that an athlete of his calibre should be more celebrated.
“The maturity he’s showed for his age when he came into the sport, he has biblical levels of confidence and feel, at the highest level,” he said, as quoted by Racingnews365.com.
“Through karting and F3, Red Bull took the risk and he is right up there in terms of what Red Bull stands for to compete and race hard.”
“Verstappen has captivated a nation,” the former Red Bull driver continued.
“Look at the Dutch Grand Prix this year. That was phenomenal for the sport, a new benchmark for that. These (drivers) come along once every 10 years. Verstappen is absolutely phenomenal and the sport should be embracing him.
“He was watching Formula 1 for a long time. He saw Lewis dominating the sport and was like ‘I want a piece of that’.
“He’s not overwhelmed by individuals, he doesn’t play people on their reputations, (and) he doesn’t drive on their reputations,” he concluded.