Alonso says Ricciardo is best F1 driver today

Daniel Ricciardo is the best
Daniel Ricciardo is the best

Fernando Alonso reckons Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo is the best driver on the current Formula 1 grid.

The McLaren driver was asked by BBC 5 Live's Checkered Flag podcast who he would rate as the top driver out of his rivals and Alonso picked Ricciardo, who is third in the 2016 championship and has won four F1 races since the start of the 2014 season.

"I would say Ricciardo right now because in the way he approaches racing he's always very committed to everything he does," said Alonso.

"On the track you cannot see any mistakes when you are together with him. In the overtaking maneuvers probably he is the best out there. When he commits to one movement, 99 per cent [of the time] he will achieve the result that he wanted."

Alonso highlighted Ricciardo's pace in the 2014 season – where the Australian driver took three wins including one in Hungary where he overtook the Spaniard's Ferrari late on in the race – as one of the reasons why he rates the 27-year-old so highly.

The double world champion also explained that he had been impressed by Ricciardo's performances that season against his then Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had won four straight F1 titles in the years preceding 2014.

He said: "Obviously in 2014 together with Vettel, it was an amazing performance that he showed and he was way ahead of Vettel in every single point – in the driving, in the approach, in the starts, in the pitstops, in the overtaking. He was beating Vettel so easily, so I have to say that he would be right now my choice."

On hearing Alonso's words, Ricciardo expressed his pleasure at being singled out for praise by the 32-time F1 winner and explained that he felt he had earned his rival's trust during their on-track battles in 2014.

He said: "[It's] pretty awesome I guess. I'm not going to lie, you can't ignore a comment like that in terms of you can't just say, ‘oh yeah, whatever'. Before I got to the sport he was already a double world champion and a guy [that] when I got to the sport I was like, ‘this is one of the big dogs'. In a way I guess someone you look up too because you look up to what they've achieved and you want to be like them [and] have that success.

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

"I feel liked I earned a lot of his respect and trust on-track in 2014. We had some good battles and I feel like since then we've got on pretty well and it's cool that he thinks that. It's nice that it's been recognized by a bit of a legend of the sport."

When asked if the positive respect from Alonso was mutual, Riccardo explained that while he was wary of praising a competitor too much, he did rank the McLaren racer as one of F1's elite drivers.

He said: "You're competing against these guys so you don't want to give them too much credit, of course. But from the start when I came in [I] respected all of the top guys in the sport, the guys that have won world championships, you have to respect that.

"I've always put him up in the top, very few, top drivers. Even [in] 2014, having the battles with him I had complete trust in him that he wasn't going to take me out and I just felt that we had some good honest hard fights and for me that was supercool."

In addition to his four Grand Prix victories – the most recent of which came at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix – Ricciardo has racked up 18 podium places for Red Bull after being promoted from Toro Rosso at the end of 2013.

He has also set eight fastest laps and scored his first F1 pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this season. James Allen on F1

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