For Marussia, life’s not been particularly easy since Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov secured 11th place in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and with it, 10th position in the Constructor’s Championship and the financial rewards that come with it.
Earlier this offseason, the team announced a mutual separation from Timo Glock after three seasons. Glock was never a world-beater, but the German had his day more than once in five full seasons of Formula 1 racing (he scored three podiums at Toyota), was fairly quick, and could have been counted on to aid the development and progress of his rookie teammate Max Chilton, who makes the leap from GP2.
Once Glock was dropped, enter Luiz Razia, the Brazilian runner-up in last year’s GP2 Series. Razia, though, has not yet gotten any seat time in any of this month’s preseason tests. According to the BBC, that could be down to finances and whether Razia has been able to bring his share of the budget to the table.
Assuming he starts in Australia, Razia would be in a similar, almost no-win situation as then-rookie Charles Pic was a year ago. Pic had minimal testing miles at best as Marussia’s 2012 car launched late. But to the Frenchman’s credit, he did at least qualify for the race, unlike the two HRTs which were outside the 107 percent time in Q1.
The other issue, more ongoing before 2014 and the new engine regulations kick in (1.6L turbocharged V6 engines replacing the current V8s), is that Marussia will likely need a new engine partner. It’s Cosworth’s lone team this year and Autosport is reporting the team is already looking for next year.
The three options are, of course, Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes. Renault stated earlier this week to Autosport it would like to reduce the number of teams it supplies for 2014.
Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.