Red Bull chief Horner: Mercedes ‘total favorite’ for new F1 season

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner says that Mercedes remains the “total favorite” for both championships in 2017 despite an overhaul of the technical regulations.

Mercedes has won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships for the past three years, racking up over 50 race wins in that period and enjoying a spell of domination rarely seen in F1.

The German marque was given a scare in pre-season testing as Ferrari emerged as the fastest team, while Red Bull is also tipped to impress under the new rules that favor aerodynamic performance, an area it is traditionally strong in.

Despite these factors, Horner remains adamant that Mercedes is still going to be the team to beat in 2017 given its track record in recent years.

“Let’s be serious: Mercedes is the clear, clear favorite,” Horner told the official F1 website.

“They have won 50 races in the last three years, we’ve won five and Ferrari three. Do I have to say more?

“The regulation changes aren’t that big. There have been times with equally big changes: refuelling/no refuelling; blown diffusers and no blown diffusers; a change from Bridgestone to Pirelli [tires].

“And one thing is crystal clear: good teams adapt.”

Despite claiming two race wins and jumping back up to second in the F1 constructors’ championship standings last year, Horner is doubtful that Red Bull can make another gain and overhaul Mercedes at the front of the pack.

“Mercedes are total favorites,” Horner reiterated. “Yes, we’ve made a good car – a good basis of a car that we will hopefully be able to develop effectively through the year.

“Renault has had a busy winter as well and hopefully the TAG Heuer-branded engine in our car will perform well this season.

“How well – and what the others will find – is pure speculation.”

The new F1 season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia on March 26.

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.