Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has denied making an approach for Red Bull designer Adrian Newey despite a number of recent stories suggesting otherwise.
Newey is widely recognized as being one of the greatest designers in the history of Formula 1, working with Williams and McLaren before making the move to Red Bull in 2006. Since 2009, the team has been one of the front-runners in Formula 1, winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships each year between 2010 and 2013, and much of the credit has been given to Newey.
Ferrari on the other hand, has entered something of a decline. The team has failed to win a championship since 2008, and spirited efforts from Fernando Alonso to win a world title have been hindered by the pace of the car, with 2010 and 2012 being examples of him coming close but just lacking the speed to beat Sebastian Vettel.
It was thought that Ferrari was willing to triple Newey’s salary to bring him to Maranello and hoist the team out of the doldrums, but the 55-year-old confirmed earlier this week that he was committed to Red Bull. Now, Mattiacci – who took over as team principal just over one month ago – has denied that he made an approach despite being tasked with turning Ferrari’s fortunes around.
“If I invite Adrian Newey to work at Ferrari? No,” Mattiacci said in yesterday’s press conference in Monaco.
However, he did admit that plans were being formulated in order to get Ferrari back to the front of the field, although he hinted that a complete overhaul was not on the cards.
“I would be extremely arrogant in saying that we already have a vision,” he explained. “Definitely we are having a picture, a quite accurate picture of the problems we have experience so far. It is clear the gap toward the leader of the championship. So we are clear what are going to be the next steps.
“I wouldn’t say vision, we know that we need to have a continuous improvement every race and that’s the way we are working. We have a lot of assets, as I have said, very positive people, drivers but definitely there is the need to improve dramatically.”
With Fernando Alonso also getting restless, it appears that time is of the essence for Mattiacci and Ferrari to cut the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull at the front.
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.