Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton expect Daniel Ricciardo to remain an F1 frontrunner
"He’s leading the champion team. That says all," says Alonso
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 14/08/14 11:57am
Daniel Ricciardo celebrates with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton on the Hungarian GP podium
Former World Champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have heaped praise on Daniel Ricciardo and tipped the Australian to remain one of their key rivals in the fight for honours at the front of the Formula 1 field over the forthcoming years.
Since arriving at World Champions Red Bull in place of countryman Mark Webber at the start of the season the 25-year-old Ricciardo has comfortably exceeded all expectations by not only outperforming his four-times title-winning team-mate Sebastian Vettel but also winning the first two grands prix of his career.
Ricciardo sits third in the Drivers’ Championship as a result of his immediate acclimatisation to life at F1’s top table and the two men he overtook in the closing stages at the Hungaroring last month to win the race, Alonso and Hamilton, have given their respective nods of approval.
Ferrari's Alonso, who also went wheel-to-wheel with Ricciardo at the previous race in Germany, when asked if he thought the former Toro Rosso driver had already firmly established himself, replied: “Yeah, definitely. I think he’s leading the champion team. That says all.
“He’s doing a fantastic job this year and now he had a few [champagne] bottles. In Hockenheim I had a very fresh tyre which probably allowed me to pass with some advantage but even with that it was not easy.
[In Hungary] I really didn’t have the tools to fight but I tried to do my best – but definitely, congratulations to him, for the whole championship and it’s going to be an interesting fight in the next couple of years.”
Mercedes counterpart Hamilton was similarly effusive in his praise of Ricciardo’s 2014 performances to date.
“Yeah, as Fernando said, he’s been driving fantastically well from the beginning of the year,” Hamilton said.
“So, it’s not only now, it’s through the whole year he’s shown his capability and is going from strength to strength. Not only one of the nicest guys in the paddock but also one of the best drivers here, for sure.”
Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo battled for victory in Hungary with the Red Bull coming out on top