Lewis Hamilton is delighted to see Robert Kubica return to the fray in 2019, if only because it will keep the five-time world champion feeling young.
Kubica's return in Melbourne next year will seal a two-year period during which the Pole fought to prove to himself and to the F1 community that he could once again race at the highest level.
The Williams driver will be 34-years-old on December 7, which means he will be F1's second oldest driver on the grid in 2019 behind Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton following close behind.
"I am so happy he’s coming back. Fernando is leaving and I was going to be the second oldest driver but now I can remain the third. I can’t tell you how happy I am about that," Hamilton joked on Thursday.
The Mercedes driver then addressed more seriously Kubica's sensational achievement, underlining his future rival's outstanding talent.
"I raced him from karting days so I have known him for a long, long time," said Hamilton.
"He was always one of the most talented drivers that I have had the pleasure of racing.
"He’s had a really difficult time for the last who knows how many years now and it’s just great to see that he’s got the opportunity back.
"I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear like he was in the past. I think it’s exciting for the sport to see him back in action."
Fernando Alonso, who unfortunately won't get the chance to race against his long-time friend next season, hopes that Williams will supply Kubica with a car worthy of his talent.
"It remains to be seen what will be the performance of the car, and his own performance because we only saw a couple of tests, but if he is 100 percent he will be amazing to watch," said the Spaniard.