McLaren Group executive chairman Ron Dennis says he didn’t try to stop Lewis Hamilton leaving the team for Mercedes last year.
Hamilton got his F1 break courtesy of McLaren in 2007 over a decade after introducing himself as a ten-year-old to Ron Dennis and saying he wanted to drive for the team.
Dennis told McLaren’s website, in an interview to mark their 50th birthday, “Lewis knows that he’s part of the McLaren family and that, like that seed, he’s grown deep roots within our organisation.”
“Last year I didn’t seriously seek to prevent his efforts to explore new pastures with the Mercedes AMG F1 team – perhaps it was a necessary part of his maturation – but I’ll always remember his time with us very fondly, just as I’m very proud of having been McLaren’s CEO and team principal when he became world champion with us in 2008.”
“I recently read a very nice quote from Lewis,” Dennis continued, “in which he said that, unlike other drivers who had joined McLaren once they’d already raced in F1, his apprenticeship with the team in his youth meant that he was a seed that had grown within McLaren, which I thought was an extremely eloquent way of putting it.”
Dennis stepped down as team principal shortly after Hamilton’s championship triumph and is now forging ahead with the company’s road car programme.
“McLaren has been hugely successful for decades, and collectively we should be very proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said. “Our first aspiration must therefore be to maintain the very high standards that we’ve already set, to regain success on the track, to develop and sell the world’s most exciting and best-in-class road cars, and to exceed the expectations of our partners in every field in which we do business.”
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.