Lewis Hamilton is chasing his third straight win in China today, and after claiming pole position in the wet qualifying session, he has given himself every chance of doing so. However, with Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and teammate Nico Rosberg all waiting in the wings, we could be set for a Shanghai surprise on Sunday.
When the skies darkened and the heavens opened over the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday afternoon, it appeared to threaten Mercedes’ dominance as Red Bull and Ferrari sought to end the Silver Arrows’ streak of poles. Instead, the gap remained just as great as it always was as Hamilton beat Ricciardo into second place by six-tenths of a second.
However, in the sister Mercedes, Rosberg was less fortunate as he made two uncharacteristic errors and ended up in fourth place. He will need to make a good start to avenge his Bahrain defeat.
Although it remains dry at the moment, rain could strike during the race and spark a strategic fight for supremacy. Whatever the weather, the Mercedes turf war is set to rumble on, but a number of sub-plots will unfold during the race today.
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto