Kimi Raikkonen’s tough start to the 2017 Formula 1 season continued in practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday after an engine issue left him to walk back to the pits on foot midway through FP1.
Raikkonen arrived in Bahrain looking to bounce back from two disappointing races to start the new season, finishing fourth in Australia and fifth in China, far behind teammate Sebastian Vettel on both occasions.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has called for talks with Raikkonen to discuss his form, but the Finn hoped to strike back in Bahrain, a race he likes, having scored eight podium finishes in the past.
However, Raikkonen’s hopes of dialing in nice and early in FP1 were dashed after an overheating issue with the turbocharger on his power unit caused him to grind to a halt.
Raikkonen was able to park his car up in a safe place, ensuring the session could continue, but was left to walk back to the pits.
Despite being offered a bicycle by one of the marshals and a ride in a golf buggy, Raikkonen preferred to walk back – still wearing his helmet and firesuit in temperatures nudging 100ºF – through the sandy infield of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Somewhat inevitably, the internet then got creative.
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.