Former Formula 1 driver turned Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle has defended Max Verstappen, amid some of the treatment that he has received by fans at Grands Prix.
The Dutchman endured an unprecedented season of domination at the wheel of the RB19, securing 19 wins and 12 pole positions on the way to his third World title.
As was the case with Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, this level of dominance usually attracts a few "boos" from fans who like to see F1 competitive rather than one team and driver winning everything.
Brundle believes the criticism levelled at Verstappen is unwarranted, and feels the level of competitiveness in F1 is as good as it's ever been.
"I meet fans and read the feisty comments people like to amplify on X, saying what a boring season it was, presumably because one combination dominated," he wrote in his Sky Sports column.
"From my perspective I don't believe I've ever witnessed such a level of close racing, overtakes, and jeopardy through the entire field, which further closed as the season progressed."
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Brundle: Max is very direct and honest
Brundle points out that Verstappen is one of the most direct drivers in the paddock, which makes him one of the better ones to interview.
"I like that Max speaks his mind and I've always found him very refreshing to interview, and also simply to chat to in the paddock," said Brundle.
"He's very direct and honest, what you see is what you get, and he clearly doesn't care all that much what others think. I can't help but feel that a little more diplomacy and balance would be more fitting to the legacy he will leave, and after all, we are all only guardians of this great sport as we pass through."
Verstappen was criticised in his early years for being overly aggressive on track, often producing defensive moves that were on the limit of what was acceptable.
In years since he has developed his driving and aggressive racing style, something Brundle feels should be acknowledged.
"Of course, he was feisty and a little wild as a teenager when first racing in F1, but he sorted that out and is mostly a model of calm out on track now, and as fair as anybody else when it comes to hard racing," he said.
"I don't understand why he's still seen as the villain, but the fans will make up their own minds."