Merhi feels ready to make F1 debut after practice outing


Caterham driver Roberto Merhi feels ready to make his Formula 1 debut should the team give him the nod following a successful first outing at Monza today.

The 23-year-old was drafted in as a replacement for Kamui Kobayashi in the first session on Friday, and is thought to be in the frame to take over permanently until the end of the season.

Caterham opted to run him in FP1 so he could get used to the car’s functionality and processes, given that he had never stepped foot in a Formula 1 racer before. For him, it was a great experience.

“Yeah, it was incredible,” he said after the session. “To drive in Formula 1 for the first time is quite amazing, especially on the out lap when I went out and I was full of power, it was so fast. I really enjoyed that.

“For sure I was not trying to go 100% pushing because at the end of the day it was important not to make any mistakes, and also to learn as much as I could from the car.”

Merhi could make his debut at the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, and although he did not confirm that there were any set plans yet, he said that he would be ready to race under the lights if the team wants him to.

“At the moment I’m going to be here on the weekend at Monza looking closely at what Marcus [Ericsson] and Kamui are doing on the weekend, and then let’s see after that what’s going on,” he explained.

“I would feel ready at whatever track, but Singapore is a bit special, but even I think it will not be a problem. It’s a city track like Macau.

“To be honest, the car I thought would be harder to drive, but it’s pretty easy and pretty nice to drive. I would feel ready.”

Merhi’s pace in the session was impressive compared to that of full-time driver Marcus Ericsson, given that it was his first time in the car. He finished ahead of the Swedish rookie, and for the second race in a row, Ericsson is being outclassed by a comparatively inexperienced driver in the Caterham.

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Power Rankings after Detroit
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Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points