Barcelona F1 Test Paddock Notebook – Friday

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The completion of Friday’s running in Barcelona marks the halfway stage in the 2015 F1 winter testing programme. We’re six days down and have six left to go in Barcelona, and the teams are now pushing hard in the run up to Melbourne.

Friday was another dry and sunny day, giving the teams ideal conditions in which to test. Red Bull took full advantage of this as Daniel Ricciardo bounced back from an early stoppage to finish at the top of the timesheets ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

Once again though, the smart money is on Mercedes after both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg put in some good laps without using the soft tire like their rivals. The team opted to split the running between its drivers in order to keep Rosberg fresh for his next outing on Sunday.

Compared to Thursday, Friday was a far less eventful day in spite of three red flag periods. Ricciardo, Marcus Ericsson and Carlos Sainz Jr. all warranted a stoppage, but none of the issues turned out to be too critical.

Rounding up all of the news and action in Barcelona today, here’s the latest Paddock Notebook.

SESSION REPORT

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Six days down, six to go. The start of the 2015 Formula 1 season draws ever nearer, giving the teams less and less time to perfect their cars and be in the best possible shape for the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

After a busy first day in Barcelona, day two was a little more understated. Although there were three red flag periods, none of the problems proved to be too critical for the affected parties, meaning that all of the teams completed some good mileage at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The man to beat was Daniel Ricciardo. His day started poorly with a small software issue that caused him to stop at the end of the pit lane, but the Australian rallied to post the fastest time and complete more laps than any other driver. It was an impressive showing, particularly with a full race simulation that looked fairly consistent. Time will tell, but Red Bull and Renault are certainly making progress.

Once again, Ferrari appeared towards the top of the timesheets with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in second place. The Finn’s best lap time was just 0.010 seconds slower than Ricciardo’s, but most of his runs did not go beyond 20 laps, meaning that Ferrari will still be looking to fine tune its long-run pace this weekend with Vettel at the wheel.

Mercedes played swapsies once again with its drivers as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton shared the running. Rosberg was rested for the afternoon due to a minor strain on his neck that he says was caused by a change in his driving position, but Hamilton gladly took up the mantle in the afternoon. Mercedes may not have finished quickest on any of the six days of testing so far, but there is plenty of pace in reserve, it seems.

McLaren also enjoyed its best day of winter testing so far as Fernando Alonso completed some good mileage in the MP4-30. Although his stints were on average around five or six laps, the Spaniard said that he felt good behind the wheel and was learning with every extra lap that was completed. Given that today was thought to be a write-off due to the issue with the MGU-K on Thursday, the productivity may have come as a pleasant surprise to the British team.

Finally, a big talking point of the day was a press conference held by Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene in Barcelona, in which he spoke about the team’s impressive start to the year. Despite finishing inside the top two in all six sessions so far, he refused to alter his target for the season of two race wins. His presence is certainly an impressive one though, contrasting his predecessor, the more passive Marco Mattiacci. Perhaps Arrivabene is exactly what Ferrari needs to get back to the top?

We’ll be back tomorrow with all of the action from Barcelona, so be sure to join us then.

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.