Hamilton calls 59-point lead over Vettel in F1 title race ‘unbelievable’

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Lewis Hamilton called his 59-point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship “unbelievable” after taking a big step towards a fourth title in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton entered the Suzuka weekend leading by 34 points, but was given the chance to stretch it out after Vettel was forced to retire early on due to an issue with his Ferrari engine.

Hamilton led the majority of the race at Suzuka en route to his eighth win of the season, fully capitalizing on his rival’s demise.

“The start was OK, although the initial getaway was not spectacularly good, I had a bit of wheel spin. But from then on I had a good start and it was pretty much under control from there,” Hamilton said.

“I was trying to manage the pace and the tires; it was a long way to go, it was the hottest the track had been all weekend, so that was really crucial.

“With the VSC towards the end, I lost a lot of temperatures in the tires and waking them up was not so easy.”

Hamilton was given a late scare when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to move to within a second at the front with two laps to go, but managed to hold on and cross the line 1.2 seconds clear.

“I got stuck behind traffic, I was losing so much time and Max’ car was so big in my mirror. It was very close for a couple laps, but I was able to keep it together,” Hamilton explained.

“It was not an easy walk in the park today, it was a win that I had to work very hard for. Great race by Max, I enjoyed racing him.”

Until four races ago, Hamilton had trailed Vettel in the drivers’ championship, with a dramatic change in fortunes putting him in a position to win the title at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in two weeks’ time.

“It’s almost unbelievable to think we are where we are in the championship. I was excited to race Sebastian today, but he was obviously very unfortunate,” Hamilton said.

“It’s still a long way to go, there are still a hundred points. I’m just going to keep my head down and hopefully will continue to be in a form like this.”

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.