Vettel: Mercedes drivers ‘in a world of their own’ in Monza qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel was content with third place in Formula 1 qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, believing Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to be “in a world of their own” on Saturday afternoon at Monza.

Vettel led Ferrari’s charge on Saturday, putting the team’s newly-upgraded power unit to good use by qualifying third ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Despite locking out the second row for its home race, Ferrari was left some eight-tenths of a second adrift of pole-man Hamilton. Nevertheless, Vettel was pleased with his efforts.

“I wasn’t that happy with the first shot in Q3. I sort of lost the rhythm a bit, then was able to get it back,” Vettel explained.

“I had a good lap, then went on the limit on the last corner, I actually lost and was a bit late on throttle. I think the lap itself, after not a great start, not a great first sector, where we are still losing out compared to Q2, I brought it back in sectors two and three.”

Vettel admitted he felt disappointed by the gap to Mercedes, but conceded the Silver Arrows were unbeatable at Monza.

“Very happy for us to lock out the second row as a team,” Vettel said.

“Not entirely happy because the gap is quite big to those guys ahead. They were in a world of their own today.”

Vettel also paid tribute to the tens of thousands of Ferrari fans who filled the grandstands at Monza on Saturday.

“It is so great to see we have so much support. I think last year was already phenomenal and this year it seems so much better,” Vettel said.

“Every out lap you do, people stand up and wave, you see so many flags. The support we get around here is massive.

“Big thanks to everyone all around the track to the Tifosi. Hopefully we can give something back to them tomorrow.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

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.