Jean-Eric Vergne ‘grew up a lot’ after Toro Rosso exit

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BERLIN, Germany – Jean-Eric Vergne has sympathized with former Formula 1 teammate Daniil Kvyat following his demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso.

The two drivers raced together at Toro Rosso in 2014 before Red Bull took the decision to promote Kvyat into its senior team ahead of Vergne for the following season.

Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull took the decision to swap Kvyat with Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen for the remainder of the 2016 season.

The move was met with some criticism, but proved to be the right one when Verstappen swept to a debut victory for the team to become the youngest race winner in the history of F1.

Vergne knows first-hand the struggles of racing and being dropped by Red Bull, having been dismissed by Toro Rosso at the end of 2014 to make way for Verstappen.

The Frenchman landed on his feet, securing a test role with Ferrari and a drive in Formula E, but said that he had no advice for Kvyat.

“I don’t have any advice for him to be fair. He seems to know what he’s doing, he thinks he knows what he’s doing,” Vergne told NBC Sports.

“I wish him the best. It’s definitely a tough moment, but he’s a good driver and he can still do something out of it.”

Vergne said that he was pleased with the direction he took following his departure from Toro Rosso, believing that he grew up as a driver in the period that followed.

“I knew I was out of Toro Rosso and I scored my best points finish after that. I’m really happy and glad I went with Ferrari after this,” Vergne said.

“I think I grew up a lot as a driver, I learned a lot. It’s amazing to be with Ferrari at the moment. It’s a great thing.”

When asked if Kvyat had moved up to Red Bull too soon, Vergne said: “It’s not up to me to judge. I think results can judge by themselves.

“He did a podium in China, yeah it’s great. But Max in his first race scored a win, so…”

Vergne was full of praise for Verstappen following his maiden victory, believing it to be a positive story for F1 as a whole.

“I think Max is an incredible driver. He has proven it in his first race,” Vergne said.

“I knew before they did it that they were right. They proved to be right.

“I think it’s great to see Max performing like this. He’s a nice guy, I get along very well with him. I’m happy for him, for Red Bull, but mainly for him.

“It’s great for the sport to see something like this happening.”

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.