Valtteri Bottas has called his elimination during Q1 for the British Grand Prix “unbelievable” after wet weather caught Williams out on Saturday afternoon.
Silverstone was hit with intermittent showers during qualifying, forcing drivers to continually switch between the intermediate and dry compound tires. After mis-timing their final runs, both Williams and Ferrari saw their drivers drop out during Q1, and Bottas did not mince his words when speaking about the result.
“The whole session was unbelievable,” he said. “We left it too late to go out on the dry tire so we didn’t get the run in as it started to rain again.
“Truthfully we were unlucky it started to rain. We had the pace to get to Q3 so we missed a good opportunity.
“It’s a long race tomorrow and we have a good car so we can still get back into the points, but again the weather will play its part.”
Williams had been riding on a high after Bottas and teammate Felipe Massa finished in third and fourth place at the Austrian Grand Prix, but this optimism has come to a crashing end at Silverstone today.
“It was really a missed opportunity to get the car in a good position for tomorrow,” commented head of vehicle development Rob Smedley. “We didn’t expect the rain and the track was drying so we had to get the lap in.
“The moment it started raining again, that was it, it was over. We have a lot to do tomorrow and it will not be easy but the car is quicker than where we are.”
Bottas and Massa qualified in 17th and 18th place respectively, but both drivers will make up two places on the starting grid thanks to penalties for Esteban Gutierrez and Max Chilton.
You can watch the British Grand Prix live on CNBC and Live Extra from 7:30am ET tomorrow.
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. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. 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.