Max Verstappen defeated a ‘fit and hungry’ Lewis Hamilton claims former Red Bull star Mark Webber, who insists drivers of the Dutchman’s calibre only ‘come along once every 10 years’
- Max Verstappen won the Formula One world championship for the first time
- The Dutchman pipped seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton at the final race
- Mark Webber believes the Red Bull star will take a big boost from the success
- The former Red Bull driver also believes Formula One should embrace Dutch ace
Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber believes Max Verstappen will take a huge boost from having defeated Lewis Hamilton while the Brit is still at the top of his game.
Verstappen dramatically sealed his first world championship ahead of Hamilton earlier this month after passing his fierce title rival on the final lap of a controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Although Mercedes were left fuming at an early call to bring the safety car in for a final lap shootout, Verstappen on fresher tyres took the golden opportunity to swoop by the helpless Hamilton to deny him a record eighth world championship.
Max Verstappen (left) won his first Formula One world championship in December
The Dutchman made a final lap overtake to claim the title in dramatic fashion in Abu Dhabi
Despite the messy end to the season though, Verstappen excelled throughout the year and Webber believes overcoming a psychological hurdle of taking on Hamilton played a big role in helping the Dutchman land the championship with Red Bull.
‘He was watching Formula One for a long time, he saw Lewis dominating the sport and was like ‘I want a piece of that’,’ Webber said on Channel 4 via PlanetF1.
‘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.
Mark Webber believes Verstappen will be boosted by defeating a peak Lewis Hamilton (above)
‘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.’
Webber, who won nine grands prix with Red Bull during his career, believes Verstappen’s emergence has been a big positive for F1 who should now embrace the 24-year-old as he prepares to be the frontman for the sport in the near future.
Webber (above) also believes Formula One should embrace Verstappen going forward
‘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. These cars are not easy to get on top of early,’ Webber added.
‘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.’