Hamilton: F1 title comeback ‘not as tough as you think’

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SINGAPORE — Having seen his title rival win three straight races in four weeks, Lewis Hamilton could be forgiven for fearing the worst about the destiny of the 2016 Formula One title, but the Briton still believes he can reverse the current championship tide.

Hamilton had a frustrating weekend in Singapore and was off the pace of his rival and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race. That was compounded by a hydraulic failure in practice that cost him a lot of long-run practice.

Given that, a third place finish and an eight-point championship deficit to Rosberg represented an acceptable level of damage limitation.

“A very trying weekend, these ones come along sometimes and you just have to take it on the chin sometimes,” a philosophical Hamilton said post-race.

Hamilton has overcome championship adversity already this year. When Rosberg won the opening four races of the season, the points gap was 43, but seven races later, the Briton had pulled ahead. Now he has to do it again.

“It’s not as tough as you think, I don’t know why,” Hamilton said. “We’ve come from 43 points down, so theoretically, eight points isn’t anywhere near as steep as that.

“With everything that’s gone on this year, I’m still in the fight, there’s still a long way to go and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Hamilton suffered through the first two-thirds of the race with overheating brakes on the punishing stop-start circuit.

“I just had to slow down and watch the other guys pull away,” Hamilton said. “Once I did my (last) stop, all of a sudden my brakes were under control.”

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.