Outgoing Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo believes his replacement in the 2021 Renault machinery will be formidable. Ricciardo who gets replaced by two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in the rebranded Alpine-Renault team won his two titles in the mid-2000s with the very same outfit. He has been out of F1 for two years and considering his 40 plus age, some believe that he may have lost his fighting edge. Ricciardo has no doubts about Alonso's ability especially after seeing him at Abu Dhabi doing the demo run in the 2005 Renault R25 in which the Spaniard won his first world title
"I watched the onboard. It was pretty cool," Ricciardo told Marca. "I guess anyone thinking Fernando's too old, it isn't the case, that's for sure," added the Australian who joins the McLaren team which was Alonso's last team in F1.
"I think he only knows one speed that guy and, yeah, it's fast and even kerbs and that, he wasn't shy to hustle the equipment. It's funny because I didn't have a stopwatch but I know for a fact he was going much slower than us, yet it looked faster because it sounded more impressive and that's the V10. It screams," Ricciardo added.
When the Australian was told the time Alonso clocked, he was even more impressed if not shocked. "Really?" was Ricciardo's surprising response. "Wait! What did qualify...1:39? Whoa! He's moving. Alright, so he's not that slow!," gushed the Australian.
Alonso clocked a time of around 1 minute 39 seconds which was just about 4 seconds slower than the time recorded in the 2020 cars which were impressive as the R25 was now 15 years old.
When Alonso won his first world title with Renault, there was no Abu Dhabi GP, but five years on Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull christened the track with a pole position time of 1 minute 39.394 seconds.
The fastest lap during the race was held by Lewis Hamilton who at the time raced for the McLaren Mercedes team clocking in 1 minute 41.274 seconds which still makes Alonso's time quite impressive considering he did a demo run in a car that he hadn't driven for decades and was half a decade older than the cars that first raced at the Yas Marina track.