2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button has labelled Mercedes as being one of the most impressive teams during the final pre-season test in Barcelona.
Like many drivers, Button is trying to work out the pecking order heading to the first race in Australia in two weeks time, and despite struggling to make sense of the timesheets, he did praise Mercedes’ pace in front of the media.
“I really don’t know who is quick and who isn’t. I’d say that one team that has been consistently quick and consistent on their runs is the Mercedes more than anyone else.”
Following three disappointing seasons since returning to Formula One in 2010, Mercedes have made significant changes for the coming season. Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher has made way for British driver Lewis Hamilton, and F1 stalwart Norbert Haug also left the team’s backroom staff.
McLaren also enter 2013 amid a wave of change following Hamilton’s departure, as well as the exit of Paddy Lowe from their F1 setup. Regardless, Button believes that the team is heading in the right direction.
“I’m happy with the progress we made today.
“I still feel there’s so much more we need to do before the first race, so I’ll be watching closely tomorrow.”
Button went on to underline the importance of track time in the pre-season test, which has been made difficult by the tricky weather conditions in Barcelona.
“We need to get a lot of laps done and that’s because we need to spend a lot of time on the circuit to understand the car a bit more and also just developing the car. Dry weather for two days and circuit temperatures in the twenties, thirties is what we need because I haven’t driven in that condition since Jerez.”
Sergio Perez will have his final run in the MP4-28 tomorrow ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, before Button closes out the test on Sunday.
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.