Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia has made Fernando Alonso’s decision to leave Ferrari look bad, says fellow Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo.
But the Australian believes Alonso switched to McLaren because he saw an opportunity – and not “just to make up the numbers”.
Alonso was forced to retire just 21 laps into Sunday’s race in Sepang due to issues with his Honda-powered car’s energy recovery system.
It was his first grand prix of the year, having been ruled unfit to race the season-opener in Australia after suffering concussion in a crash during testing.
Asked for his thoughts about the Spaniard’s move, Ricciardo said it “doesn’t look as nice” after Vettel scored Ferrari’s first victory since 2013.
“But obviously at the time, I think he’d spent five years from what I understand with Ferrari, I think he felt like he did all he could to win a title and that didn’t come,” he said in an interview with Laureus.com.
“So McLaren came in this season with a new, let’s say, chapter in their career and trying to make something happen – and he obviously saw an opportunity in that.
“Obviously they’re not up to speed yet but I’m sure he’ll get there – probably a bit like us. It’s a matter of time, but I’m sure we’ll fight for a podium.”
Ricciardo said there was no doubt Alonso still had what it took to be a world champion again, but ultimately it depended on how good his car was.
“I think he’s the kind of guy that wouldn’t do it just to make up the numbers.
“I think he wants to do it for only one reason, and that’s to win.”
Ricciardo believed Ferrari’s win would’ve woken a few people up at Mercedes, who dominated last season to win the championship via Lewis Hamilton.
“I think they definitely made a bit of a statement on the weekend,” he said.
“For the fans and everyone, it’s great.
“Obviously from my side, I want to be part of that fight, so that’s where we’ll try and close the gap and make it a three-way fight.”