Ricciardo: It’s been good having Fernando in the garage

Daniel Ricciardo had double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso on his side of the Renault garage on Saturday and he welcomed the Spaniard’s input.

The Australian, who is moving to McLaren at the end of the season, qualified fifth for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola with what he said was his best lap of the season so far.

Alonso, a future foe, was there to observe as part of a programme to get him back up to speed before a comeback as Ricciardo’s replacement following two years out.

The 39-year-old won the San Marino Grand Prix at the racetrack in 2005 on his way to his first Formula One championship with Renault.

Sunday’s race will be the first grand prix at Imola since 2006 and only Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, of the current grid, raced there in F1 before.

“It’s been good. He’s going to be a competitor next year but I obviously look forward to that,” said Ricciardo of Alonso’s involvement.

“He’s going to be working with my team, my engineering crew so he’s been involved in our debriefs and pre-weekend meetings.

“It was actually quite helpful to have him listen in yesterday and hear what set-up we were thinking, because he’s driven here before… it’s unknown for us, so having another kind of opinion with him was quite good.”

Alonso tested Renault’s current car in Barcelona this month and has visited the team’s factories in Britain and France recently.

He will also carry out a two-day test in a 2018 car in Bahrain on 4-5 November.

Renault are fifth in the championship but only six points behind third-placed Racing Point.

Ricciardo, a winner with Red Bull before joining Renault, took his first podium with the French team at the Oct. 11 Eifel Grand Prix when he finished third.