The era of V8 engines in Formula One has come to a close in Brazil as Sebastian Vettel handed Renault one final victory as an engine manufacturer using its current configuration of power unit.
Over the years, there has been an increasing push to cut costs and subsequently reduce the size of the engines, meaning that the V8s replace V10s back in 2006. However, next year will see the introduction of turbocharged V6 engines, meaning that the V8s have come to the end of their eight year life cycle in Formula One.
The era has been dominated by Renault who tasted championship success with its own works team in 2006 before an imperious run of form powering Red Bull as the team has developed from midfield runners to quadruple world champions. The French manufacturers ended the V8 era as they began it: by winning. Sebastian Vettel claimed his ninth straight win in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix with a fine display that saw him finish the season in style.
“Winning today seems a fitting end to the era – we’ve won a lot of races and learned a great deal,” deputy managing director Rob White explained. “The challenge facing the Viry team for 2014 cannot be underestimated. Success in the past is no guarantee of success in the future, but if we keep the same spirit and work ethic that have yielded results with the V8, it bodes well for next year and beyond.”
The V8 engine has certainly served Formula One well, and the new configuration of power unit in 2014 has a tough act to follow.
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.