With Fernando Alonso continuing to be linked to joining McLaren next year (and adding recently that his next move would surprise no one), it’s murky times for both the young Magnussen and former World Champion Button – who himself may be facing his final Grand Prix ever.
But in an Q&A for Formula1.com, Magnussen isn’t seeing this weekend’s season finale as a fight between himself and the Brit for survival. He also said he wasn’t sure if a good result in Abu Dhabi would swing things in his favor.
“It is difficult to say if it would make a difference in this matter,” he said. “I honestly assume that no decision has been made on the management level so far, but I would deny that this race is something of a shoot-out.
“But then, of course, a good result always helps… For you, personally – that you know that you can do it.”
When asked about the possibility of staying on and pairing up with Alonso, Magnussen was similarly cagey.
“I think for every team in the paddock, Fernando would be a good choice,” he said. “But as Jenson is a fantastic team mate, I have to say that I would have no preference.”
He also insisted that despite his current situation, he was approaching the weekend as he would any other and was focusing on McLaren’s upgrades that they’ve brought to the desert – including a new front wing.
“It is a normal race – just like the rest of the season,” he said. “We have some exciting new things [on the car] for this race and as normal, I will do my best and not let myself getting distracted by thinking about what the future brings.”
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix coverage continues tomorrow with FP3 on NBC Sports Live Extra at 5 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying on NBCSN and Live Extra at 8 a.m. ET.
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.