Mark Webber says 2021 F1 world champion Max Verstappen should be "embraced" by Formula 1 as the phenomenal driver he is.
Although Verstappen's crowning versus Lewis Hamilton was achieved amid considerable controverse at the final round of the F1 season in Abu Dhabi, there is no disputing the Dutchman's talent and determination insists Webber, nor the Red Bull driver's status as a "benchmark" for the sport.
"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," Webber told Channel 4.
"These cars are not easy to get on top of early.
"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. 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."
Webber noted that Verstappen emerged victorious in his battle this year against Hamilton by beating a "hungry and fit" driver at the absolute top of his game.
And that achievement showed once again that the Dutchman has no inhibitions when it comes to going head-to-head with his fiercest rivals.
"He was watching Formula 1 for a long time, he saw Lewis dominating the sport and was like ‘I want a piece of that’," added the Aussie.
"He’s not overwhelmed by individuals, he doesn’t play people on their reputations, he doesn’t drive on their reputations.
"He just sees it as ‘this is my turf, I’m a racing driver and I’m going to make my presence felt’, which he does extraordinarily well.
"So I think for him to know he went against Lewis, there was no real attrition – yes he had the puncture in Baku, the shunt in Silverstone which was Lewis’ fault, Max was a bit out of order in Saudi I felt.
"So they’ve had their trials and tribulations but ultimately he knows he’s beaten a hungry Hamilton, a fit Hamilton."