Ricciardo dismisses age concerns over 'young, sharp' Alonso

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Daniel Ricciardo has rubbished suggestions Fernando Alonso might be "too old" as he returns to Formula 1 in 2021.

The double world champion fills the seat vacated by the Australian at the rebranded Alpine team this season, this after a two-year absence following last race at McLaren in 2018.

And speaking on the WTF1 podcast recently, Alonso was asked why he decided to leave F1 after 17 years.

“I had other things on my mind, and my head was busy on IndyCar and the ‘Triple Crown’ goal," he explained.

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“I wanted to finish the World Endurance Championship in the best way possible. At that time, Australia [Grand Prix] and Sebring 2019 were clashing.

“I wanted to win the World Endurance Championship, I wanted to complete the second Le Mans, I had Daytona, the Rolex 24 with Cadillac on my mind as well. I had the feeling I could try Dakar again also in 2020.

“I had too many things in my head that were not F1. F1 was not appealing at that time for me, it was not offering what other series were offering at that time.

“So I thought ‘look, it’s better to stop here, I don’t know if I will come back with the new regulations in 2021 or not, so let’s say this is my final race’.”

As it is, Abu Dhabi 2018 wasn't to be his last hurrah and Alonso feels primed and ready to return to the F1 grid.

“After I completed some of those challenges, missing only the Indy 500, I thought this was the right time to come back, even if the new regulations are for 2022,” he said.

“I feel good, I feel young, I feel sharp, so let’s try again.”

Ahead of his comeback, Alonso has been racking up the miles in both the 2018 and 2020 Renault cars.

But it was another drive which convinced Ricciardo that Fernando still has it.

“Fernando is not too old,” he said via SpeedWeek. “I looked at the on-board camera footage of Fernando in the 2005 Renault in Abu Dhabi, that was really cool.

"Whoever thinks Fernando might be too old to return, I have to say – no, he is not. He only knows one speed: full throttle. He threw the old Renault over the curb that it was a pleasure.

“Although he drove a bit slower than we did in modern cars, it looked fast. Maybe that’s because of the sound of that screeching V10 engine. You automatically have the impression that a racer is fast.”