Button: Impossible to predict F1 pecking order

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Jenson Button is unsure how the F1 field is shaping up ahead the first race of the season in three weeks’ time, saying that he has little idea of where McLaren lies in the pecking order.

The British team has endured a difficult pre-season due teething problems with the new Honda-powered MP4-30 car. A recurrence of Thursday’s issue limited Button to just 24 laps on Saturday in Barcelona, giving the Briton plenty of time to see what the other teams are doing.

“I’ve had time to look at the screens, but I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in terms of who’s quick and who isn’t,” Button said. “Really difficult to read. I think you can expect the Mercedes to be the quickest, looking at the long runs.

“I think Ferrari is pretty strong but then I really don’t know where Williams is, really difficult to read. Sauber looks reasonably good which is good for them, very happy for them at the moment. Red Bull, they look pretty good.

“But it’s tricky. You put the soft tire on some people and it gains them 1.5 seconds; some people it’s three to four tenths. It’s all very random at the moment.”

Button believes that this sets the scene for a closely-fought first race of the year in Australia on March 15, contrasting the dominance of Mercedes in 2014.

“I think it makes it great for the first race and really makes it exciting,” Button said. “You could read last year, you could see the Mercedes [first] then the Williams was second quickest, then probably us third quickest in winter testing.

“Whereas this year, I haven’t got a clue which is great. I think it’ll be a mixed-up field at the first race.”

McLaren’s test came to an early end in Barcelona as an accident for Fernando Alonso cut short the team’s running. The Spaniard was airlifted to a local hospital for a check-up, but was confirmed to be “uninjured and fine” by the team on Sunday afternoon.

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.