Starting grid for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix

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The new Formula 1 season kicks off in Melbourne today in earnest as the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg prepare to renew their fight for the drivers’ title.

2014 provided a vintage championship battle between the Silver Arrows, with Hamilton emerging the victor in Abu Dhabi thanks to his double points victory and Rosberg’s subsequent non-score.

Now though, the scoreboard has been reset. Today, both drivers start from zero, and you can be sure that they will be hungrier than ever to make the most of this.

For Hamilton, history is within his grasp, as he could become the first British driver in F1 history to win back-to-back titles. A third championship would also draw him level with his hero, Ayrton Senna, in the record books.

As for Rosberg? 2015 is a chance for him to apply the lessons that he learned last year in his defeat and have another shot at the title.

To start with in Australia though, Hamilton appears to have lost none of his advantage from last year. The Briton stormed to pole position ahead of Rosberg as Mercedes once again proved to be the cream of the field. Once again, it seems that today’s race will be a question of “who” rather than “if” for the Gemran marque.

Just behind the Silver Arrows, Williams and Ferrari look set to scrap over third place in the battle to be the ‘best of the rest’. Felipe Massa lines up third for Williams ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, but the Brazilian will be fighting alone after teammate Valtteri Bottas was ruled out in the hour leading up to the race by the FIA stewards following a back injury.

Just 17 cars had been due to start the opening grand prix of the season following Manor’s failure to qualify. However, this has now fallen to 15 after Kevin Magnussen suffered an engine failure on his installation lap, whilst Daniil Kvyat failed to make the start after also stopping on track.

You can watch the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra now (CLICK HERE for live stream) with the race starting at 1a ET.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus
9. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
10. Felipe Nasr Sauber
11. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
DNS. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
14. Sergio Perez Force India
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
16. Jenson Button McLaren
DNS. Kevin Magnussen McLaren

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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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.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

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, one of three races held during Supercross’ inaugural season along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. 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.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

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.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2