MONTMELO – Lewis Hamilton responded to the pace shown by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg early on Friday by finishing fastest in the second free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The defending Formula 1 world champion posted a fastest lap time of 1:26.852 to finish four-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets on Friday afternoon as Mercedes once again proved its pace.
The second session saw the teams split their running between short qualifying simulations and long runs with high fuel, but it was Hamilton who made the best of the hot conditions to finish as the fastest driver.
Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, was forced to settle for third place in the final classification, finishing over three-quarters of a second behind the Briton. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top four for Ferrari as the Italian team stepped up after a disappointing first practice.
Red Bull endured another difficult practice session as Daniel Ricciardo was unable to get out on track due to a problem with his power unit, forcing the team to put the car up on jacks for most of the session. Daniil Kvyat enjoyed a more fruitful FP2 though, finishing fifth ahead of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen.
There was also trouble for Lotus during the session as Romain Grosjean lost his engine cover whilst driving down the main straight. The bodywork was left strewn across the start/finish straight, prompting a short red flag period to allow the marshals to recover it.
Jenson Button showed signs of a revival at McLaren to finish seventh in FP2, two-tenths clear of teammate Fernando Alonso in 11th place. After such a difficult start to the year, the British team appears to finally be on the cusp of a breakthrough in Barcelona.
At the front though, Mercedes remains in control of proceedings, it appears, and Hamilton will be hoping to carry his FP2 form through to qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday as he bids to extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.
For full details on NBC Sports’ broadcasting of the Spanish Grand Prix, click here.
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.