No McLaren 2017 driver decision until September at earliest

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has confirmed that the team will not discuss its driver line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season until September at the very earliest.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button currently race for McLaren, but junior driver and 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne is waiting in the wings to step up to F1 full-time.

Vandoorne made his F1 debut in Bahrain in April, standing in for the injured Alonso and scoring a point by finishing 10th.

Alonso enters the final year of his three-year McLaren contract in 2017, but Button is without a firm deal for next season, putting him at risk of being replaced by Vandoorne.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the UK, Dennis said that McLaren would not discuss its 2017 line-up until after the Italian Grand Prix in September, and may wait even longer before making a final decision.

“We are not even going to talk about drivers until after Monza,” Dennis said.

“We will have a board meeting towards the end of September, which is a logical time to make a decision, but we might not even take one then.

“What we won’t do is hamper anyone’s career. At the moment we have a young and aspiring driver, two tremendous world champions, and as and when we have to talk about it we will take everything into consideration.

“But right now we are barely halfway through the season. The most inappropriate thing we could possibly do is start talking about decisions like that which impact on next year.

“It’s just too early.”

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.