MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Italian Grand Prix


The Italian Grand Prix at Monza has traditionally marked the beginning of the end for each Formula 1 season, acting as the final European round of the year.

In the modern sport, the bulk of flyaway races mean that we still have seven more races after this weekend’s grand prix, but much is already being decided and in 2015.

The driver market is becoming increasingly clear, with the majority of drivers poised to remain with their current teams.

Williams announced on Thursday it would be retaining Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for 2016, whilst Force India signed Nico Hulkenberg up for another two years earlier this week.

The race for the championship also appears to be becoming increasingly one-sided. Lewis Hamilton extended his lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to 28 points last time out in Belgium, storming to his sixth victory of the season.

Another win on Sunday would see Hamilton break past the 30-point barrier, and given his form in the second half of 2014, it is difficult to see where Rosberg claw his way back into the fight.

Ahead of this weekend’s race at Monza, MotorSportsTalk’s Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have made their predictions. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Hamilton is in a fine run of form at the moment, and I can’t see much changing at Monza this weekend. The grunt of the Mercedes engine should prevent Sebastian Vettel or Ferrari from posing a threat, leaving only Rosberg in Hamilton’s way. And it’s not like that has been much of a problem recently.

Surprising Finish: Romain Grosjean. Riding high after his third-place finish at Spa, I’m tipping RoGro to impress once again this weekend. Lotus may be facing a rough few weeks financially, but the car is sound and Grosjean is one of the most underrated drivers on the grid.

Most to ProveSebastian Vettel. A driver’s first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver is always an important occasion. Although Vettel may struggle to emulate Fernando Alonso and win first time out, he will be expected to bring home a podium at least.

Additional Storyline to WatchGrid penalty one-upping. McLaren racked up 105 places worth of grid penalties at Spa. I wonder if any of the teams can beat that this weekend.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Because Mercedes, because horsepower, because Lewis was back to being authoritative again at Spa.

Surprising FinishNico Hulkenberg. We’re seeing the upgrades of the B-spec Force India and Sergio Perez took it to great heights at Spa. Nico, now armed with a new contract, is due for his first top-five finish of the F1 season. It’s a long shot, but if he has the  chance to stand on a Le Mans and Monza podium in the same season, given the crowds rushing the track afterwards, would be extraordinary.

Most to Prove: Williams. Consecutive double dip races without top-five finishes is not what this team needs. They’re not vulnerable in the constructors’ championship – yet – but can’t afford a third successive lackluster grand prix.

Additional Storyline to WatchWhat, if any, stories emerge about the race’s future. As the European finale and with some talk in the last year about Monza possibly falling off the schedule, the significance of this year’s race may become more important if a new contract is not agreed upon. Monza, more than nearly any other circuit on the calendar, represents the soul of the sport.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

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


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

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

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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