Stoffel Vandoorne believes that he will face no extra pressure during his debut Formula 1 season despite there being a chance Jenson Button will return to a McLaren seat for 2018.
McLaren announced over the Italian Grand Prix weekend that Vandoorne would be stepping up to a full-time seat for the 2017 season after spending the past year in a reserve role.
The Belgian will partner Fernando Alonso following Jenson Button’s decision to take a year out from F1 in 2017.
However, should both the driver and team be willing, Button is able to return to a McLaren seat for 2018, appearing to put pressure on Vandoorne should he not perform. The 2015 GP2 Series champion does not see it this way, though.
“No, I don’t see that situation as extra pressure. I have a long-term deal with McLaren,” Vandoorne told the official F1 website.
“Hopefully we soon will be able to get back to the competitive level where McLaren used to be.
“In terms of next year, yes it is a special structure, but I think it is one of the best. Myself and Fernando are going to race, and then it is good to keep Jenson as well.
“He is the most experienced driver in F1 now and he will be involved with the team, be it in the simulator or coming to a few races.”
“I am fully thinking about the opportunity that I get – there is no room for non-issues. I want to succeed and am very much looking forward to that.”
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.