SPIELBERG, Austria: Daniel Ricciardo has welcomed Fernando Alonso’s Formula One return as his Renault replacement next year while ruling out sacrificing any time in the car to help the Spaniard get up to speed.
The Australian, who is moving to McLaren at the end of the season, told a Styrian Grand Prix video news conference in Austria yesterday that he was excited about the double world champion’s comeback, announced the day before.
“It’s going to be great obviously for the sport. He’s such a name in the sport and has been for so many years,” said the 31-year-old of a rival who will be 39 this month.
“To return with the team and the brand that got him his titles I think is a good fit. And I’m excited to race against him again.
“It’s cool. The young guys are good but they make me feel old, so having another older driver on the grid now it’s better for me.”
Alonso last raced for McLaren in 2018 and Ricciardo was asked whether he would be happy to hand over his car for any Friday practice sessions this year. The answer was no. “I heard the words ‘help Fernando Alonso’. He doesn’t need any help. It didn’t look like he’s slowed down at all with age. His last season in F1 was a pretty strong one from everything I heard and saw.”
Other drivers have also welcomed Alonso’s return to F1.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes’ six times world champion and Alonso’s former McLaren team mate said: “I’ve no doubts that Fernando can be in great shape. The bonus for me is that I was the second oldest (driver) and now I’m going down to be third oldest. Ultimately, the more top drivers we have the better it is for the sport.
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes driver and winner of season-opening race in Austria said: “It’s good to see him back. He’s obviously won championships and he’s quite a big name in the sport. It’s important to have all the top drivers, the best drivers in the world.”