Alonso enjoyed a spectacular start in F1’s first-ever sprint race, going from 11th to fifth on the opening lap.

The Spaniard dropped to seventh as the faster McLarens overtook him in the 17-lap sprint.

The two-time champion didn’t enjoy a similarly good start in Sunday’s grand prix but he got the better of Sebastian Vettel in the early laps before defending from the second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll for the duration of the race. 

Speaking after sprint qualifying at Silverstone, Ricciardo praised Alonso for his impressive racecraft and said it showed that age isn’t a factor, with the Alpine driver turning 40 next week.

“I actually congratulate him for making it pretty exciting. His start was phenomenal and kept us on our toes. I think it is cool to see... there is always the question - I think with any sport - is age a factor?

“I think his racecraft this year has been probably the best on the grid, at least at times. It is cool to see he has still got a real passion and a drive for it and that you can keep doing it at a very high level.”

Alonso himself described his start in the sprint as one of the best in his career.

“Yeah I think the first lap was one of the best,” Alonso added. “I know there are a lot of first laps before, they are understood, like good ones… especially in the Renault days, with very good starts. But this one, not only into Turn 1, it was Turn 3, Turn 4, 6, 9 it was a more complete lap.”