Alonso praises "unbelievable" Red Bull rival - and it's not Vettel

Daniel Ricciardo

Fernando Alonso has praised Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, describing the Australian's performance this season as "unbelievable".

Alonso and Ricciardo fought a thrilling battle during yesterday's German Grand Prix, with the Spaniard eventually emerging on top. 

However Ricciardo put up a robust but fair defence against the Spaniard as he fought back from an off at the start of the race. Alonso eventually finished fifth with the Red Bull driver taking sixth. 

And Alonso was quick to highlight Ricciardo's performance after the race, praising the man who currently sits one spot above him in third in this year's world championship.

“Daniel is a surprise from Australia,” Alonso said after the Hockenheim contest.

“He’s doing unbelievable. I think he’s seven-three [in qualifying] in the first 10 races with Sebastian [Vettel], so it’s something we probably didn’t suspect.

“He’s driving fantastically and today he was battling very smart – always taking the slipstream of me after I pass him and braking very late, attacking very late and never missing a corner.

“He was very, very smart, very respectful with the rules and it was a great fight.”

Alonso also admitted that his battle with the Australian left him extremely marginal on fuel in the race's closing laps.

“For the last stint I was saving fuel but I was battling with Ricciardo, so for some laps you have to decide to give up the position and cross the line or fight with Ricciardo and be on the limit to cross the line,” he added.

“I decide to fight with Ricciardo, be in the position and then I will try to manage the fuel as good as I can.

“On the last lap, I had to save fuel massively and I was in eighth gear all lap and it was lucky that there was not 100 metres more.”

Ricciardo currently has 106 world championship points, nine more than Alonso.