Mercedes boss targets Alonso, Bottas in case Hamilton leaves team

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Reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is entering the final year of his contract with Mercedes AMG Petronas, and both sides have expressed willingness to stay together for 2016 and beyond.

But it never hurts to have a back-up plan, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has apparently revealed his.

In an interview with Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, Wolff says that another two-time World Champ, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, would top his driver shortlist in the event that a deal with Hamilton can’t be reached.

Additionally, he mentions Williams young gun Valtteri Bottas as a second alternative behind the Spaniard.

“There’s no hurry, we’ll discuss it during the year,” Wolff told the Italian publication as relayed by Reuters. “I’m an optimist. The priority is to continue with these drivers [Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg].

“Should it not be possible, then Alonso represents the first alternative, then there’s Bottas.”

Alonso recently returned to McLaren to join with Jenson Button for 2015 as part of a multi-year contract according to the team.

But if they’re unable to come out of the gate strong with new Honda engines, it could cause Alonso’s eyes to look elsewhere for a better opportunity to capture a third F1 title.

Wolff praises Alonso in the interview as “dangerous in any car,” and there’s certainly no doubt of Alonso’s ability. But it must be considered that this may simply be a move by Wolff to spur Hamilton on with the process of getting a new deal done.

However, even if that is the case, you still figure the chances of a break-up between Hamilton and Mercedes are minimal at this point following such a successful 2014.

With Rosberg locked in on a multi-year deal as of last July, Wolff has to know that retaining Hamilton is still the best option for the ‘Silver Arrows.’

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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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.