Following practice on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be the only team that stood any chance of beating Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Korea, but ultimately the Silver Arrows failed to threaten the German driver’s dominance on Sunday, crossing the line in fifth and seventh.
Lewis Hamilton suffered from aggressive tire wear throughout the race, spending the final eighteen laps of the race stuck behind Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.
“That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team,” Hamilton said after the race. “After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. After the safety car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber.”
Hamilton did force his way past Hulkenberg on more than one occasion only for the German driver to recover the position thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Sauber.
“Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead,” Hamilton conceded. “It was a nice battle with Fernando [Alonso] but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.”
Nico Rosberg had been set to reach the podium at one point after passing Hamilton for third place, but a spectacular nose and front wing failure seconds later put paid to any hopes he may have had of scoring heavily.
“That was another very tough race for me,” Rosberg said. “I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits.”
Eventually, Rosberg was forced to settle for seventh, but Mercedes did manage to cut the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to just one point.
The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.
For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.
Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.
One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.
Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.
It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.
Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.
Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.
Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.
Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.
Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.
Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.
Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.
Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.
The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.