MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Chinese GP

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If F1 was sick and in need of a doctor in Australia, then it must have taken some amazing medicine to get back on its feet for what proved to be a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix last time out.

Sebastian Vettel’s shock victory for Ferrari rocked the Formula 1 paddock, which had resigned itself to another year of unchallenged Mercedes dominance as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shared the wins among themselves.

Instead, we now have a fascinating dynamic to take into the rest of the season. Ferrari’s pace could well prove to be nothing more than a ‘flash in the pan’ – a circumstantial victory – but in reality, it appears that Vettel is well-placed to keep the Silver Arrows checking their mirrors in 2015.

So for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, MotorSportsTalk’s Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have some tough calls to make in their predictions. Will Mercedes resume normal service, or can Ferrari pull the same trick for the second race in a row?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Mercedes may have suffered a heavy defeat in Malaysia, but you can expect normal service to resume here. The cool conditions in China should work in the favor of the Silver Arrows, but it will be interesting to see whether Mercedes’ tire woes crop up again this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. Grosjean’s luck so far this season has been rotten (to put it mildly), but the baseline pace of the Lotus E23 Hybrid is very good indeed. You can expect the Frenchman to finish inside the top ten if he can have a trouble-free race weekend in China.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. Is this the same Nico Rosberg that challenged Lewis Hamilton for the title in 2014? It doesn’t look like it. The German driver has done very little of note on track, and hasn’t given his illustrious teammate a great deal to worry about. He must hit back this weekend, or risk going 3-0 down in the intra-team battle.

Additional Storyline to WatchRed Bull versus Toro Rosso. Being beaten by your supposed B-team is pretty embarrassing. Red Bull looks to be in disarray at the moment, but usually runs well in China. All eyes will be on Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat this weekend to see if they can get back on their feet, but don’t hold your breath.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. I don’t think Mercedes will screw up the strategy twice in a row. Hamilton has three prior wins at China and he’ll be poised to get back on form this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. This should be a good circuit for the Mercedes-powered Lotus, and I could see Grosjean breaking through for his first points score of the year. An eighth or ninth seems realistic, perhaps seventh if all the stars align.

Most to ProveForce India. Compared to the other Mercedes-powered teams, Force India is a bit on the back foot. At present, the team’s goal of points seems optimistic, and both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have yet to star this season.

Additional Storyline to WatchFerrari’s intra-team battle. Sebastian Vettel’s win stole the headlines in Malaysia, but Kimi Raikkonen’s run to fourth was just as impressive. Is this the weekend where Kimi gets ahead of Seb? Both are past race winners and on current form, should be in contention for podium positions.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes

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For full broadcasting details of the Chinese Grand Prix, click here.

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.