Jolyon Palmer expects Romain Grosjean to play a big part in helping Haas develop in its debut Formula 1 season.
Palmer worked with Grosjean at Lotus throughout 2015, deputizing for the Frenchman in a number of practice sessions in order to gain experience in an F1 car.
Grosjean opted to leave Lotus at the end of 2015 ahead of its takeover by Renault, joining NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 operation for its debut season.
When asked by MotorSportsTalk whether Grosjean will be an asset to Haas in 2016, Palmer was complimentary about his former colleague.
“I think he’ll be good, yeah. He’s a quick driver, he’s experienced,” Palmer said.
“He knows what he wants from the car. So he’ll be pushing hard with them.”
Haas made an impressive start to pre-season testing in Barcelona earlier this week, racking up almost 300 laps across four days as Grosjean and teammate Esteban Gutierrez got their first taste of the VF-16 car.
Although Palmer said it was difficult to judge how Haas would stack up this year, he expects the American team to be embroiled in the midfield battle.
“They’ve started pretty reasonably. They’re getting some laps in, they’re looking quite reasonable,” Palmer said.
“So I’m sure they’re in a different league to the HRTs, the Virgins when they came in. I’m sure they’ll be in the mix somewhere in the midfield.”
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.