David Coulthard believes Daniel Ricciardo shares the same “superstar” status as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and his soon-to-be former team-mate Max Verstappen.
The Aussie is preparing for his final race in Red Bull colours before he heads to Renault ahead of the 2019 season and Coulthard thinks Ricciardo could play his part in a four-way battle during next year’s campaign.
“When you produce a film, a key to success is choosing the right actor for the right role,” Coulthard told Formule1.nl in Brazil.
“Here you have Lewis Hamilton as superstar, Max with his offensive driving style and Sebastian Vettel with his German winning mentality.
“Ricciardo belongs in that list.
“The fact that someone like Fernando Alonso could not play a leading role in a non-competitive car in recent years was bad for the sport, but it will undoubtedly be better for Daniel at Renault.”
Many are not mentioning Renault in the same breath as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for 2019, but Coulthard is wary about writing the Enstone team off completely.
“It is a real factory team and is investing heavily,” he added.
“That they have captured Daniel is proof of that. That was not a bargain and a declaration of intent of what Renault wants.
“What the millions for Ricciardo and the team for Renault will yield will become clear in 2019, a year with new changes to the rules.
“People dismiss them as small but something can really happen.”
Ricciardo has said he is hoping for a “fitting farewell” at Red Bull in Abu Dhabi, which hopefully means not adding to the eight DNFs suffered so far this season.