Daniel Ricciardo says his colleagues would be wrong to expect “an old man” to return to F1 next season when Fernando Alonso resumes his Grand Prix career with Renault.
The 39-year-old Alonso will replace McLaren-bound Ricciardo at Enstone after a two-year hiatus from Formula 1. But the Aussie insists the last couple of years will have not eroded the Spaniard’s speed.
“I wasn’t really sure what he would do,” Ricciardo told Spanish daily AS. “I know he’s been very busy in a lot of different categories since leaving Formula 1.
“I wasn’t sure if he still wanted to get back into Formula 1, but it seems he does.
“In his last year here he left with a perfect qualifying record (21-0), he was still driving amazingly and Stoffel Vandoorne is not just anybody.
“He has the talent to push the car to its maximum, he knows that. No one should expect an old man, I’m expecting a very fast Fernando Alonso.”
Ricciardo believes Alonso’s blend of talent and experience will complement teammate Esteban Ocon’s youth and driver Renault’s progress forward.
“Next year, and in the years to come, I think they will continue to improve and progress,” Ricciardo commented.
“Esteban has experience and confidence, but also someone very, very, very experienced is arriving in Fernando.
“I am looking forward to racing against him again and I think Renault will progress strongly in the years to come.”
Prost trusts Alonso will return with changed ‘philosophy’
Renault has struggled in the midfield in the past two seasons while McLaren – Ricciardo’s future team – has made significant progress, leading F1’s second division last year.
But the current Renault driver is expecting some tough battles against the French outfit and Alonso in the future, and especially in 2022 when F1’s new regulations kick in.
“2022 is a very interesting goal for the team with the rule change,” he explained.
“We will see who takes the biggest step then, but we will have good battles against Renault in the next few years.
“They have always been very professional with me, even after announcing that I would be leaving.”
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