‘An old Alonso? I’ll wait for a very fast Fernando’

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso

Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso

Returning to F1 next year at the age of 39, Daniel Ricciardo says rivals mustn’t think they are getting an “old” Fernando Alonso, they’re getting a “very fast” one.

Earlier this year Renault confirmed that the Spaniard would be back in Formula 1 next season, replacing Ricciardo at the Enstone team.

Two years after he walked away from the sport, ending a disappointing stint with McLaren, the double World Champion will be back mixing it up with the world’s best.

He may yet return as the oldest driver on the grid depending on whether Kimi Raikkonen, 40, decides to quit at the end of this season.

Ricciardo, though, has warned that age won’t have slowed down the Spaniard.

“Don’t let anyone wait for an old man,” he told Spanish daily AS. “I’ll wait for a very fast Fernando.

“I wasn’t really sure what he would do. 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 fullest, he knows that.

“An old Fernando, I wait for a prepared and very fast Fernando.”

The Aussie is confident that Alonso, working alongside Esteban Ocon, has the ability to drive Renault forward.

Official F1 Shop: Black and white face coverings

He added: “Next year, and in the years to come, I think they will continue to improve and progress.

“Esteban has experience and confidence, but also someone is arriving very, very, very experienced in Fernando.

“I am looking forward to racing against him again and I think Renault will progress strongly in the years to come.”

Daniel ricciardo media

Ricciardo’s decision to swap Renault for McLaren at the end of this season is a gamble with new regulations coming into effect in 2022.

With Formula 1 switching to ground effect aerodynamics, no one knows which teams will get it right, and which teams may get it horribly wrong.

Ricciardo reckons however it plays out, he will be battling Alonso and Renault in the years to come.

“2022 is the most 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 been very professional with me, even after announcing that I would be leaving.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.