How will 18 cars change proceedings at the US GP?

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The financial difficulties being faced by both Caterham and Marussia mean that next weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin is set to be contested by just nine teams fielding 18 cars.

On Friday, Caterham confirmed that it had been taken over by administrators who are now looking for a new buyer. Until such a date, it will not be racing, meaning that it will be absent from the next two grands prix in the USA and Brazil.

Marussia has not yet officially confirmed that it will be missing the United States GP at the Circuit of The Americas, but F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone claims that its financial problems have also become so grave that it cannot race in Austin.

So we’re now left with our lowest F1 field since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix. The regular field was 20 cars from 10 teams, but BAR was banned after running below the minimum weight during the San Marino Grand Prix.

Technically, it will be lowest number of cars to start a race (that is, actually pull away from the grid when the red lights go out) since the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, where 14 cars pulled into the pits after the parade lap to withdraw on safety grounds. Just six cars took part in the race, with Michael Schumacher winning for Ferrari.

It is worth stressing that this is not a repeat of Indy ’05. Admittedly, this problem has been caused by the selfish agendas of those at the top of F1, but a six-car field is very different to an 18-car field. Here are a few ways in which the reduced field will affect running in Austin.

Less cars = better chance of points

Theoretically, this works into the favor of both Lotus and Sauber, who have been languishing on the fringes of the top ten all season long. Although both Marussia and Caterham were usually behind them, without this competition, there is no chance of being outqualified by them, nor being denied points.

Jules Bianchi’s run to ninth in Monaco came out of the blue, with many expecting Sauber to break its duck long before Marussia. The Swiss team is now propping up the grid, with both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez desperate to score some points.

In reality, the actual race itself won’t be too different from the stands. It’ll be like a reduced field – often caused by retirements under normal circumstances – running from the start. It’s not great, no, but you’ll still get a show at the front of the field.

No Marussia means no Alexander Rossi

This is hypothetical, given that Marussia had not confirmed whether it planned to run two cars in Austin. Following Jules Bianchi’s accident in Japan, the team chose to run just one car in Russia, leaving the Frenchman’s fully ready to race in the garage, waiting for its driver.

Rossi had been named as the team’s substitute for the race, though, and would have been the choice in Austin once again. Had the team elected to race with his car, the American would have been in line to make his long-awaited full F1 debut on home soil.

The lack of an American driver in Austin will certainly take some of the sheen off for some fans.

Qualifying should change to take absences into account

With 22 cars, it works as follows: six cars are eliminated at the end of Q1, another six are eliminated at the end of Q2, leaving the remaining ten to fight it out for pole position.

So with just 18 racing, does that mean only two will be knocked out in Q1? Don’t count on it.

The most likely solution will be to amend the running so that four cars drop out in each of the sessions to still leave 10 to fight it out in Q3. When Super Aguri pulled out after four races in 2008, qualifying was changed so five cars dropped out in each session (half of the field outside the top ten). Given that the regulations are written for a 26-car grid, it is likely that this will be the course of action.

With Sebastian Vettel already saying that he will sit out qualifying to take a whole new engine, there will be just three cars dropping out at the end of Q1. Expect Sauber and Lotus to share those positions.

At the front, little will change

It’s a brutal truth, but the big teams won’t miss Caterham and Marussia. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will still be duking it out at the very front of the field. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso will most probably be fighting for the final podium position. Everyone else will continue with business as usual. Big questions will be asked of the top powers in F1, evasive answers will be given.

Formula 1 will ultimately continue on like it always has in Austin. Let’s just hope that 18 cars isn’t going to become the norm for 2015.

Jett Lawrence wins Hangtown Pro Motocross, remains perfect in 450s

Lawrence Hangtown Motocross
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Jett Lawrence remains perfect in the Pro Motocross series after recording another perfect round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California. In his second start on a 450, Lawrence won his second National with his fourth consecutive moto win. It is getting increasingly difficult to find the right superlatives to describe the exploits on the reigning 250 West Supercross champion.

“The track was so brutal out there,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Jason Thomas. “The bike handles amazing even when it’s not too friendly. You had to be really patient; you couldn’t take too much. I didn’t eat enough before that second moto. I kind of lost energy halfway through, but luckily I could use technique and balance and just keep that flow going.”

Lawrence leaves Hangtown with an 18-point advantage over Ferrandis in the 450 Motocross standings, but perhaps more importantly, he climbed to 19th in the SuperMotocross standings and should he stay there, he has an automatic invitation to the Main events in the SMX Championship.

“On this track, you just have to manage,” Lawrence continued. “If you try to take too much and not respect the track, it will bite you very quickly. It was humbling on the first few laps. I got kicked on the cutout at the start of the third section, the tabletop going to the left. I had to get my focus because the boys were coming.”

Still in his first few races since returning from a concussion suffered at Houston in the Supercross series, Dylan Ferrandis finished second with results of third in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2. While Ferrandis was happy with the result, he remains hopeful that he will contend for victory shortly.

“The first moto was very hard for my physically, Ferrandis said. “I got arm pump and when you get arm pump your body gets tired. But I’m very happy because we made a big change for the second moto. We tried stuff every session today and in the last moto the bike was much better, but unfortunately I wasn’t sure what I could do with this bike because the track was very hard and difficult to pass.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Hangtown

With the rash of injuries at the end of the Supercross season, the podium was filled with heartwarming stories. Cooper Webb returned to action last week in Pala and failed to make the podium. He is steadily improving with a third-place finish in Hangtown. after finishing with a 4-2.

“It’s incredible what seven days can do,” Webb said. “Last week I felt like I was going to get lapped in the second moto. This week, I could see the leader. It was nice. I fought hard, learned how to suffer again there and that felt nice.

Moto 2 wasn’t pretty for Lawrence. On several occasions in the opening laps, he nearly high sided as he rode the front wheel through the ruts. The reward was worth the risk. By the halfway point, Lawrence had 4.5-second lead over Webb, who was embroiled in a tight three-rider battle for second with his teammate Aaron Plessinger pressuring him and Ferrandis ready to take advantage if those made contact.

It took 20 minutes for Plessinger to get around Webb and once he did, he trailed Lawrence by four seconds. But then, with three minutes remaining, Plessinger crashed and had difficulty restarting the bike, handing second back to Webb who has seven seconds behind Lawrence. Plessinger fell to fourth with results of third and sixth.

Adam Cianciarulo rounded out the top five with a 5-4.

Last week Hunter Lawrence won the overall with a 3-1. He repeated that feat in Hangtown in an exact replica of his Fox Raceway results last week. In Moto 1, Lawrence got off to a slow start and lost 10 seconds in the opening laps. Forced to overcome a sixth-place position in the race at the end of Lap 1, he once again caught the riders ahead of him when the field hit heavy traffic. For the second week, scored another 3-1 for the Hangtown National win.

“The start was crucial’ I knew I had to go,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “They laid a lot of water down, so I didn’t want to be behind any longer than [I was]. First hot one of the year, was a bit of a wakeup call, so I’m happy to get out of here safe and healthy.”

Lawrence’s third-place finish in Moto 1 featured a fierce battle for final spot on the podium when he caught Spain’s Guillem Farres and France’s Tom Vialle. With Lawrence hailing from Australia, the international nature of the sport was highlighted.

Lawrence left Hangtown with a 10-point advantage over Haiden Deegan in the Pro Motocross championship battle.

Click here for 250 overall results

Justin Cooper finished second in both motos to finish second overall. Hangtown represented a huge improvement from Fox Raceway where he finished fifth overall with a 5-4 finish in the two motos. Cooper pressured Haiden Deegan in the second half of Moto 1 and he earned the holeshot in the second moto and stayed within three seconds of Lawrence in that race.

“He was following me a little bit, checking out my lines, seeing where he was better,” Cooper said. “It’s disappointing to give up the lead like that but it was way better than last weekend. I will definitely take two seconds. I want to be on the top of the step. I feel like I get close to the top step but I never get it done. That’s building up the frustration – the fire. I really want to get one of these wins, so it’s time to start digging.”

Haiden Deegan earned the first holeshot of his career in Moto 1 and rode away from the field, building a four-second lead in the opening laps. Cooper trimmed the lead at the halfway point and for a while it leveled off at two seconds. Then Cooper made another charge with three to go and closed to within a second. Deegan was biding his time, however.

“I was saving a little. I knew at the end Justin was going to try and put a charge on. I let him get up close and then sent it super hard at the end to break him a little at the end.”

Deegan’s first moto win comes in only his fourth National and he remains perfect in regard to podiums this year.

“This was a dream since I was a little kid, to win,” Deegan said. “And in my fourth race, it’s gnarly. I was just sending it. I was getting a little tired at the end becasue I left my mouth open the whole time. It’s unreal; I’m so hyped. I wanted to win bad and I proved it to you guys.”

Chaos erupted in turn 1 in Moto 2 Jeremy Martin went and another rider ran over his arm. Michael Mosiman crashed further down the track on that same lap. Both riders were helped off course by the Alpinestars Medical team.

2023 Motocross Race Recaps

Fox Raceway: Jett Lawrence wins in first 450 start

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Chase Sexton is out for Hangtown
Enzo Lopes re-signs with Club MX for 2024
Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Pala
Results and points after Pala
Jett Lawrence wins Pala in his first MX start
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury