Romain Grosjean believes that the late crash with Max Verstappen in yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix would have taught the Dutch driver a lesson in how not to overtake around the notorious street circuit.
Thanks to the tight and twisting layout, overtaking is near-impossible around the streets of Monaco, but this did not stop Verstappen from mounting a charge for tenth place in the final 20 laps of the race on Sunday.
The 17-year-old opted to try and follow Sebastian Vettel through the traffic, with the Ferrari driving being one lap ahead on the Toro Rosso driver.
Verstappen used this tactic to good effect, closing up on Grosjean before attempting a pass into the first corner. However, he misread where the Frenchman had placed his car and crashed into the back of him before flying into the barrier at high speed.
Grosjean was initially angry, swearing to his engineer about Verstappen, but was far calmer about the incident after the race.
“I didn’t see much of the accident with Verstappen, just his car flying past me in the air,” Grosjean explained. “Overtaking in Monaco is difficult and I think he gained that bit of experience today.
“It’s good to know he’s okay, as it was a bit dangerous for both of us, and it cost us what would have been a hard-earned point.”
Grosjean had been poised to claim a fourth successive top ten finish, but eventually crossed the line down in 12th place as a result of the incident.
“Until then my race had been going pretty well when you consider where we started,” Grosjean said. “The car felt good and the strategy was working well.
“After the accident, I turned around which established all four wheels were there, then looked in the mirrors to see if the rear wing was still there too, then got on with my race.”
Grosjean’s Lotus teammate, Pastor Maldonado, suffered his fifth retirement in the first six races of the 2015 season thanks to an issue with the brake-by-wire system on his car.
“I had a problem with the brakes and I could feel the pedal pressure wasn’t right from very early on and that compromised our race from the off,” the Venezuelan driver said.
“It got worse and worse so we had to retire the car. It’s a shame for the team, we had a good car here, very good pace for the race and I think a strong strategy.
“There’s potential in the car, we just need to carry on, work hard, and look forward in the championship.”
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.