F1 deciding on fate of unliked qualifying system on Thursday

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Formula One team bosses and the series’ key powerbrokers will vote on Thursday whether to adopt a new qualifying system in which a driver’s time is based over two laps instead of one.

The rolling elimination format used over the opening two races, in which the slowest driver was eliminated every 90 seconds, was universally condemned by drivers, teams, and fans due to a lack of on-track action as drivers preferred to save their tires rather than try to improve their times.

Teams advocated a return to the old qualifying system, but FIA president Jean Todt and the series commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone ruled at a meeting at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday that there would be no going back to that format as race promoters were demanding something that increased track action and drew fans to the circuit on Saturdays.

Faced with an unsatisfactory current format and no chance of a return to the old one, teams were briefed at the meeting about a proposed new format. While details were not publicly released, it was understood that a driver’s time in each of the Q1, Q2, and Q3 sectors would be based on an aggregate of their best two laps rather than one.

Any change of rules midseason requires unanimous agreement among the teams, so disagreement from any team means the much-criticized existing system will be retained for the next race in China on April 17.

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.