Mark Webber makes bold F1 prediction after Max Verstappen ‘captivated a nation’

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Former Formula One driver Mark Webber admits Max Verstappen’s talent is something we expect to see once in a decade after the 24-year-old successfully beat Lewis Hamilton to the title this season. After a year-long battle, Verstappen was finally crowned F1 champion of the world after the Briton forced the championship to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

Despite the season ending in controversy, Verstappen was a worthy champion after leading the most laps by quite a margin over the rest of the field and had the most pole positions across the season to wrap up a maiden title.

At just 17 years old, it was clear Verstappen was a highly talented driver and remains the youngest driver to ever appear on a Grand Prix weekend.

His successful start to his career didn’t go unnoticed as Verstappen was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2016 just five races into the season.

The youngster went on to impress on debut at the Spanish Grand Prix as he stormed to victory in his new Red Bull, a glimpse of what was yet to come from the Dutchman.

However, at the time it appeared he had not matured enough for Formula One and often found himself in hot water with both the FIA and other drivers.

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But this season there has been a new side to Verstappen that F1 fans have not seen before, as the hot-headed teen has been replaced by an F1 champion.

“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.”

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David Coulthard, who works alongside Webber at Channel 4, believed Verstappen was cut from the same mould as Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

“He’s an exceptional human, an exceptional athlete,” the Scot told Channel 4.

“He’s brilliant and divisive. Who else do we know that’s brilliant and divisive? Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, to name but a few. So some have been able to do it.

“In fairness to Lewis, he’s been able to win an amazing amount of championships in a very clean way. He hasn’t really had too much controversy.

“With the might of Mercedes and Lewis, Max has had to arguably come with a different approach. His approach is, whenever there is a door partially open, he’ll go for it.

“And Lewis has to keep opening up the door because he knows he’s coming and that’s got in the psyche of Lewis.”

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