Kimi Raikkonen’s weekend in Abu Dhabi had started in promising fashion after some good performances during practice, but after being excluded from qualifying on Saturday, the Finn’s race lasted just one corner after a coming together with Caterham’s Charles Pic at turn one.
The Finn had qualified fifth at Yas Marina, but he was excluded after his Lotus E21 car was found to have a floor that flexed too much, making it illegal. The team insisted that this had been caused by the severe kerbing at the circuit (with this excuse being accepted at the Hungarian Grand Prix) only for their argument to be rejected by the stewards who duly sent him to the back of the grid.
Raikkonen had been expected to start from the pit lane to allow Lotus to make changes to the car. However, the team instead opted to start him from his grid slot of twenty-second place, but this decision came back to haunt them.
Having leapfrogged one of the slow-starting Marussias off the line, Raikkonen positioned his car in the centre of the circuit to try and pass the Caterhams ahead. However, Pic cut across the front of his car when turning in to the first corner, resulting in his left-rear tire making contact with Raikkonen’s front-right. This caused damage to the Finn’s suspension and forced him to pull over at the side of the track and retire.
After conducting some TV interviews, Raikkonen was shown on the FOM world feed to be getting inside his car to leave the circuit well before the end of the race.
With questions still lingering about his future, it is unlikely that this disastrous weekend will have done his relationship with Lotus any favors.
ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).
“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.
“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”
For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.
“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.
“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”
Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.
“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.