Drivers question why Hamilton not penalized on 1st turn

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix with the help of a wide turn through the grass and dirt at the first corner.

It was a crucial victory for the defending champion if he is to catch Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in this season’s title chase with just two races left.

But several drivers questioned why Hamilton wasn’t penalized for going off track and returning with a huge lead. The move came when Hamilton locked his right front brake coming out of the long straight off the start.

“Very surprised by that. Massive advantage,” said Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who started fifth and had a good view of Hamilton’s drive into the first turn. “I think he was going well off the track. He was far, far from making turn one and two … That it’s not even being looked at is amazing to me.”

Hamilton started on pole position and the maneuver helped him stay ahead of Rosberg. It was critical for both the race and the chase for the season championship.

Race officials chose not to review Hamilton’s move, but did look at a bump between Rosberg and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the same turn that briefly sent Rosberg into the grass as well. No penalty was assessed in that case.

Verstappen was later penalized 5 seconds for running wide into the grass at the same corner as Hamilton’s drive-off. Verstappen’s wild ride came in a late-race duel for the third with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and the penalty cost him a podium finish.

“Lewis gained a massive advantage (at the start),” Verstappen told Sky Sports. “I didn’t gain an advantage. When I came back on track I was the same length in front so I think it’s ridiculous.”

Hamilton insisted they were different racing situations.

“I think I was still in the lead going in. I was still in the lead going out,” Hamilton said.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished third, wasn’t so sure.

“How you can be leading, lock the brakes, go off and come out in front?” Ricciardo said. “I think he deserved the penalty. I think anyone who does that deserves a penalty.”

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.