Alexander Rossi is pleased with his performance during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix despite finishing at the bottom of the timesheets.
The Caterham reserve driver deputized for Kamui Kobayashi during FP1 on Friday in Montreal, marking the first time that he drove a 2014-spec F1 car. Nevertheless, his time was just four-tenths shy of Caterham regular Marcus Ericsson, and he was pleased to complete some good mileage.
“Yeah it was alright I think,” he explained when asked about his session by NBC Sports. “Obviously you always want to go quicker than the other car. I think that for the first foray, 27 laps is alright.
“There were some things that were very much as I expected, and some things that weren’t. At the end of the day, I accomplished the number one thing, which was to drive this year’s car to get an idea of what it’s about.”
Rossi last drove for Caterham during practice for the United States Grand Prix – his home race – but since then Formula 1 has seen a huge change in the regulations, making the cars very different to their 2013 predecessors.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s anything that’s the same, to be honest, other than the fact that it’s a green race car with four wheels,” Rossi said. “Everything’s completely different and the approach that you have to take is completely different as well. It’s a fun car to drive to be honest, it takes you back more to the junior formula days because it’s not a race car that’s just on rails.”
Now, Rossi is turning his attention back to his GP2 campaign with Caterham Racing. He will next drive a Formula 1 car at the race in Austin later this year.
“This is a great experience. I’m very thankful to the team for the opportunity. I have a lot of work to do in GP2, so starting right now, my mind is going back to GP2 and how we can improve that situation. Come Austin, I think the car will be very different than what I just drove anyway, so it will be a new kind of experience to adapt to.”
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.