Rosberg capitalizes on Hamilton’s early exit to take Chinese GP pole

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Nico Rosberg will start Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix from pole position after finishing half a second clear of the field in qualifying in Shanghai.

After seeing Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton drop out in Q1 thanks to an engine issue, Rosberg capitalized by taking his first pole position of the season.

Rosberg’s biggest challenge came from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who sat on provisional pole after the first set of runs in Q3.

However, the Finn failed to make much of an improvement on his second lap, dropping him to third behind Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in second place.

A mistake from Sebastian Vettel on his only Q3 lap left the German to settle for fourth place on the grid ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat.

Sergio Perez led Force India’s charge in seventh ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg in P10, with the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen splitting them in eighth and ninth respectively.

A loose wheel on Hulkenberg’s car at the end of Q2 brought out the red flag, preventing from any of the drivers sitting in the dropzone from improving their times late on.

Felipe Massa was the biggest loser, narrowly missing out on a Q3 berth in P11, while the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were also left disappointed in 12th and 13th respectively.

Romain Grosjean failed to reach Q3 once again for Haas, finishing 14th ahead of the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, both of whom improved late on in Q1 to avoid being eliminated at the first hurdle.

The biggest shock of qualifying came in Q1 when four-time Chinese Grand Prix winner Hamilton was forced to pit without setting a lap time due to an ERS issue on his Mercedes W07 Hybrid car.

The Briton had reported early in qualifying that he had an issue on his power unit, and in spite of Mercedes’ best efforts to rectify it during a red flag period, the team could not get him out for a full power lap. Combined with his grid penalty, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid.

Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez’s miserable weekend continued as he was knocked out in Q1, splitting the Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer in the dropzone. Manor’s Rio Haryanto followed in P20 ahead of teammate Pascal Wehrlein, who like Hamilton failed to post a time after crashing on the main straight early on and causing a lengthy red flag stoppage.

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

Tomac Supercross Houston
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list