Esteban Ocon takes first F1 victory in Hungary; Sebastian Vettel disqualified in 2nd

Sebastian Vettel disqualified
FERENC ISZA/AFP via Getty Images
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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Frenchman Esteban Ocon broke through for his first Formula One victory Sunday, and runner-up Sebastian Vettel was disqualified to cap a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix.

Capitalizing on another first-lap crash for title rival Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton finished third to take the F1 points lead, which increased by three points when he was elevated to second by Vettel’s DQ.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. moved up to third ahead of Ocon’s Alpine teammate, Fernando Alonso.

More than four hours after the race, F1 announced that Vettel’s runner-up finish was disqualified because of a fuel violation.

Verstappen placed 10th after being taken out early in the race by Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, in a first-lap crash that caused him and four others to retire.

It was only the 24-year-old Ocon’s second podium, following a second-place finish at the Sakhir GP in Bahrain last year.

The crash in the rain was caused by Bottas, who retired as a result.

The race restarted in absurd fashion with only Hamilton on the grid after starting on pole position, while others were changing their tires because the track had dried. Hamilton had to do the same a lap later and came out in last place, a couple of spots behind Verstappen.

But a clever second tire change by Mercedes for hard tires on Lap 20 outwitted Red Bull, and Hamilton moved ahead of Verstappen after he came in for new tires.

Now it was Verstappen’s turn to feel frustration as he was stuck in 11th while Hamilton was already up to fifth by Lap 35 of 70.

TOPSHOT-AUTO-PRIX-F1-HUN-PODIUM
French driver Esteban Ocon celebrates on the podium after the Alpine driver won the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack (FERENC ISZA/AFP via Getty Images).

With 30 laps to go, the top four was Ocon-Vettel-Sainz Jr.-Hamilton.

To give Hamilton a shot at victory, Mercedes made a third tire change with a little more than 20 laps remaining.

But he had to get ahead of the 40-year-old Alonso first, a driver with 32 wins, 97 podiums and among the most talented of his generation.

Alonso held off the first attack on Lap 55 and blocked him two more times on Lap 57 with stellar defending on the inside.

Alonso’s nous was enough to repel two more attacks as Hamilton was blocked again on the outside, and they nearly collided.

When Hamilton finally got past him there were only five laps left and Sainz Jr just ahead. He overtook him but by then the front two were too far ahead.

Hamilton was treated afterward for dizziness, which he later said could be related to his COVID-19 bout last year. His bid for a 100th win resumes on Aug. 29 at the Belgian GP in Spa.

Bottas will start that race with a five-place grid penalty for causing the accident, which he apologized for in a postrace tweet.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary
Esteban Ocon celebrates between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary (Florion Goga – Pool/Getty Images).

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.