Lewis Hamilton has finished fastest in the second practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, heading up a Mercedes one-two with German teammate Nico Rosberg for close company.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a favorite of Hamilton’s, and this was clear during FP2 as he posted a fastest lap time of 1:16.118 to finish 0.175 seconds ahead of Rosberg.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished as ‘best of the rest’ in third place, only half a second down on Hamilton’s pace-setting time. However, teammate Daniel Ricciardo had a less fruitful session, finishing down in 12th place.
Ferrari and Williams both managed to put in impressive displays, with the Italian marque’s drivers finishing fourth and fifth. Kimi Raikkonen appeared to find his feet with the F14 T car (despite spinning at the hairpin) to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso, while compatriot Valtteri Bottas looked comfortable with the Williams in seventh place behind teammate Felipe Massa.
Marcus Ericsson’s session didn’t go to plan as he was forced to pull over at the side of the track due to a problem on his car. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was also sidelined due to a problem with his power unit, meaning that he finished the session in last place with just three laps on the board.
Adrian Sutil was left fuming after Kevin Magnussen blocked him at the final corner, forcing the Sauber driver to take evasive action across the chicane. However, the stewards did not see anything too sinister behind it, and opted to take no action.
The teams also took the chance to work on their long-run pace during the second half of the session, allowing them to get a representation of what may happen during the race on Sunday. Once again, Hamilton and Rosberg were the men to beat, even with heavy fuel loads.
Ultimately, Mercedes once again ruled the roost in practice, suggesting that Alonso’s charge to P1 in FP1 was merely a flash-in-the-pan. Of course, a lot can happen on Saturday and Sunday, but once again we look set to see a Mercedes victory.
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.