Bob Fernley has called on Formula 1 to safeguard its summer break and ensure that the paddock is not burned out by an ever-expanding calendar.
For 2016, a record-breaking 21-race schedule has been provisionally announced by the FIA, starting with the Australian Grand Prix on April 3.
The later start to the season means that there are more back-to-back races, and the summer break has been shortened from four to three weeks.
Speaking at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Force India’s deputy team principal said that although the sport must work to welcome new races onto the calendar, the summer break must be safeguarded to prevent burnout of his staff.
“I think it’s very important to support the commercial rights holder,” Fernley said. “We understand the challenges it faces to put a global sport on and we have to make efforts to accommodate races where we can.
“But I think also that has to be done around the teams. We run a very tight ship. Most of the teams run a tight ship.
“The travelling staff need to have that summer break and if we don’t do that we’re going to burn them out or we’re going to have to bring in a second crew. Either way it’s not good for Formula 1 or the costs of the independent teams.
“The other thing I think as well is that from a media point of view there is a certain amount of anticipation that comes after the summer break for the second half of the season and I think we shouldn’t forget the importance of that from the expectation of fans and the eagerness of fans to get into the second half.
“So I think the summer break as a whole, from my point of view and from Force India’s point of view, should be retained at all costs.”
Fernley also confirmed that Force India is close to agreeing a new deal with Sergio Perez for the 2016 season, and expects an announcement to be made before the next race in Singapore.
“I think it’s very important for us to try to keep stability and I expect we’ll do that,” Fernley said. “Vijay is working very hard now to finish off the second contract with Checo and hopefully we’ll get some news on that for Singapore.
“With the continuity and the stability of rules into 2016 hopefully we can carry the performance through.”
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.