Mercedes has released a statement confirming that its drivers are still free to race following a meeting at its F1 headquarters today to discuss the incident during last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
After a dispute over team orders in Hungary, Rosberg went into the race weekend at Spa looking to “prove a point”, and refused to back out of an overtaking move on Hamilton on the second lap of the race. The two drivers made contact, leaving Hamilton with a puncture that ruined his race. Rosberg managed to recover to finish the race in second place, thus extending his lead to 29 points at the top of the drivers’ championship.
In a post-race debrief, Rosberg admitted that he could have backed out of the move and chose not to, leaving team bosses fuming.
The F1 community was then left to consider just how Mercedes could move forwards in 2014, and whether its drivers would remains free to race amid their title fight. However, this appears to have been resolved in a meeting today between Rosberg, Hamilton, and the team bosses.
“Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of Mercedes AMG Petronas headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix,” a statement from the team reads.
“During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologized for this error of judgement. Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident.
“Mercedes-Benz remains committed to hard, fair racing because this is the right way to win world championships. It is good for the team, for the fans and for Formula 1.
“Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team’s number one rule: there must be no contact between the team’s cars on track.
“It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them.
“They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.”
Although the team appears to have defused the situation, there will still be questions when Rosberg and Hamilton next go into battle on track. However, it has been made quite clear that a repeat of the fall-out from Spa will not be accepted by the team.
The two title protagonists will next enter battle at the Italian Grand Prix, which takes place on September 7th.
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.