After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year.
Finishing seventh after an impressive second-half charge was Romain Grosjean…
No. 8 Lotus-Renault
2013 Stats: 7th Place, 0 Wins, 6 Podiums, 7 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s, 36 Laps Led
Average Start: 8.1
Average Finish: 9.6
DiZinno says: Comeback driver of the year, without question. Name your cliche – rags to riches, zero to hero, whatever – there’s no doubt Grosjean saved his career and then asserted himself as Lotus team leader in the second half. Interestingly the Lotus was never that hard on its tires in the first half, but come the midseason construction change Grosjean’s form improved even more so; I’m not sure how much of that was down to his mind clearing up or him just finding a better balance with the car’s setup. Lotus alternated between a long and short wheelbase car in the second half. Nonetheless, the run of podiums heralded him as a race winner-in-waiting, and as team leader in 2014, he’ll have to keep improving to ensure Lotus remains a formidable effort.
Estrada says: Just when we were ready to declare him a lost cause following his Monte Carlo weekend from Hell, Grosjean put up a rally to not only save his spot in Formula One but also elevate himself to team leader at Lotus. A podium run at the Nurburgring heralded his upswing and by the time he had fought the Red Bull tandem of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber tooth-and-nail in Japan, he had completed his revival. Following Japan, Grosjean rattled off podium finishes at India and the United States, where he claimed a career-high second. And as 2014 looms, the Frenchman is now surely aiming for bigger and better things.
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.