Ricciardo: “Not easy” to make friends in F1 life

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Formula One is certainly filled with glitz and glamour, but Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo knows another truth about the F1 life: It can be tough to find a pal.

“You try to make friends along the way but it is not easy,” the Australian driver said in a James Phelps-penned piece for today’s Sunday Telegraph (Sydney, Australia).

“The friends you tend to make are drivers because you spend most of your time at a track…But in this business, you are one out a lot of the time. It is hard to make friends because of all the traveling we do and how busy we are. I am never in one place at one time and it is impossible to build a network of friends.”

Ricciardo tells Phelps that he has a good rapport with Infiniti Red Bull driver and fellow Aussie Mark Webber, but that he doesn’t always get along with all of the other racers on the grid. In addition, he constantly checks in with family from Down Under – some of which will see him compete next weekend at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Perth native has been looking to take himself and Toro Rosso farther up the pecking order in 2013, and a good opening round in front of his relatives (and his countrymen) would be a solid first step.

But while he’ll be raring to go for his home event, it sounds like he’s looking forward to post-race even more.

“That is the hardest thing, missing my family and mates,” he also said to the Telegraph. “I don’t get to see them much, but this week a few of them are coming from Perth. But honestly, my only chance to see them will be on Sunday night when it is all over.

“I can’t wait to catch up, because I don’t know when I will see them again.”

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “