5.91 cm separates frustrated Bottas from front row in China

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Valtteri Bottas was left frustrated after missing out on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by just 0.001 seconds in Formula 1 qualifying – equivalent to just 5.91 centimeters around the Shanghai International Circuit.

Bottas arrived in China keen to build on his impressive first outing for Mercedes in Australia two weeks ago, where he qualified and finished third.

The Finn produced a solid display in qualifying on Saturday in China, finishing just 0.187 seconds off teammate Lewis Hamilton on pole, and only 0.001 seconds – the smallest time differential possible in F1 – behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

According to Mercedes, this equated to a physical gap of 5.91 cm, or 0.00001 per cent of the lap in Shanghai, much to Bottas’ frustration.

“One-thousandth is not much. A real shame [Vettel] managed to get between us,” Bottas said.

“That’s a shame, but again, the race is tomorrow. We are starting as a team first and third, it’s a good place to start. The weather can be anything really tomorrow. Lewis was strong today, Ferrari was strong and we were always expecting a close fight today on-track.

“I think it will be the same case tomorrow, but yeah, really thankful to the team again, great job in a short amount of time in practice today to get the car setup well. It was enjoyable to drive. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am 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.