Vettel relishing fight for Austria F1 victory in ‘phenomenal’ Ferrari

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Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel is confident of challenging for his first Austrian Grand Prix victory on Sunday, calling his Ferrari car “phenomenal” after qualifying second at the Red Bull Ring.

Vettel bounced back from a difficult Friday to top final practice on Saturday morning, and was just 0.042 seconds off pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas’ time for Mercedes, having lost his final run in Q3 due to yellow flags.

With F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton starting down in eighth after being hit with a grid penalty, Vettel is relishing an exciting race at the front of the pack as he bids to extend his 14-point advantage in the drivers’ standings.

“The car was really good, last qualifying also for the last run, but then it was a bit of anti-climax with the yellow flags,” Vettel said, reviewing his qualifying session.

“But yeah, very happy. It’s a great track, shame it’s a bit short but really enjoyable with a lot of high-speed corners.

“The car’s been really phenomenal so looking forward to tomorrow. I think we have to look after ourselves, do our own race.

“It will be a tough race with Valtteri. He’s been quick all weekend, also yesterday, setting a good pace, so we will see. I think it should be a good race.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am 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.