Mark Webber believes Max Verstappen's "biblical levels of confidence and feel" were instrumental in beating a 'hungry and fit' Lewis Hamilton to this year's F1 title.
Former Red Bull driver Webber, a nine-time grand prix winner, believes Verstappen should be 'embraced' given the talent the Dutchman possesses.
The 24-year-old finally landed his maiden championship at the end of a captivating season-long battle with Hamilton that went down to the final lap of the year in Abu Dhabi.
While the closing laps were contentious given how they were handled by FIA race director Michael Masi, the feeling is Verstappen is at least a worthy champion after winning 10 races and finishing in the top two in 18 of 22 grands prix.
Assessing Verstappen as a driver and his performance this year, speaking on Channel 4, Webber said: "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.
"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 feels Verstappen can take great pride in taking on Hamilton at the top of his game and who was targeting becoming F1's outright record holder with eight titles.
"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 Webber.
"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...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."