Leclerc: F1 practice debut ‘one of the best days of my life’

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Charles Leclerc was buoyant following his maiden appearance in a Formula 1 race weekend session with Haas on Friday, calling it “one of the best days of my life”.

Leclerc, 18, joined the Ferrari Driver Academy at the beginning of the season that also incorporated a development role at the new Haas team.

After previously testing a 2014 Ferrari privately at Fiorano, Leclerc got his first run in a current-spec F1 car at Silverstone on Friday in FP1.

Piloting the Haas VF-16 car, the Monegasque racer finished the session 18th-fastest, 1.3 seconds behind regular Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

“It’s been an amazing experience for my first time in a Formula 1 car,” Leclerc said.

“I was struggling quite a lot at the beginning, as Silverstone is quite a hard track with lots of high-speed corners, and I found the steering wheel quite stiff in comparison to anything I’ve driven before.

“However, it was a great session and lap after lap I gained confidence. The last run was on old tires, so we couldn’t show our real pace, but I think we were quite fast.

“We completed the program and that was the main aim, so I’m happy with that.

“It was probably one of the best days of my life, and to do it with Haas has been even more amazing.”

“Charles did a good job this morning in FP1,” team principal Guenther Steiner added.

“We must remember that this was his first time in an F1 car – under difficult conditions too, as the track was still a little damp.

“He did a good job and we got all the data we needed from his runs.”

Leclerc’s next practice run-out with Haas is set to come in Hungary in two weeks’ time.

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.