WATCH LIVE: Chinese Grand Prix Race Day on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET

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Lewis Hamilton may have been forced to settle for second place behind Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in Malaysia two weeks ago, but the defending Formula 1 world champion proved on Saturday he is still the man to beat by claiming pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Despite failing to improve his time at the end of Q3, Hamilton’s lap was good enough for his fifth pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit. Nico Rosberg will start alongside his teammate on the front row of the grid as he bids to avoid a ninth defeat in the last ten races to the Briton.

With Vettel looming large behind the Silver Arrows in third place on the grid, the stage is set for a close fight at the front of the field in China on Sunday.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Hamilton has continued his love affair with the race in China this weekend by topping every single session, always managing to find those extra few tenths to beat Rosberg. Even when he made a mistake in the final part of qualifying and failed to improve his time, the German driver could not get on top. His frustration was clear for all to hear in his post-session radio cry of: “Oh come on you guys!”

Ferrari should draw closer to Mercedes during the race, given how competitive its long-run pace in FP2 on Friday was, but a repeat of its win in Malaysia seems unlikely. Pirelli expects all drivers to two-stop, and although a one-stop race is possible, it would leave those brave enough to take a punt on it scrambling at the end of the race.

Just behind Ferrari, a great battle for P5 appears to be on the cards between Williams and Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo told NBCSN that he was surprised by Williams’ qualifying pace, whilst Felipe Massa appeared more focused on the cars ahead. With the likes of Lotus, Toro Rosso and even Sauber circling just behind, any mistakes could be particularly costly in China.

The same is true for Hamilton and Rosberg. This may only be the prologue to their main saga in 2015, but the foundations for another spectacular title fight are already being laid.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

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 during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

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

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