Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has said he will quit Formula 1 if the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, increased the number of races per season to around 25 in the next few years.
Liberty completed its takeover of F1 in January and has confirmed that it is looking to grow the sport’s calendar beyond the 20 races currently on the schedule and push into new markets, with 21 events planned for next year.
Concerns have been raised about the pressure that a 25-race schedule would place on the paddock considering the packed year that teams already have once testing, development and media activities are factored in.
Alonso was quoted in the Spanish media as saying that he would quit F1 in the calendar did hit 25 races, and the McLaren-Honda driver confirmed that he was correctly quoted on Thursday in the FIA press conference ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.
“I started when the calendar was 16 races, plus the tests, and now we keep on increasing the races year after year and I think we are in a number that is quite demanding already,” Alonso said.
“The life you have, between the preparation, the sponsor events, the tests, the commitments you have plus 20-21 races, I think it is already enough.
“If there are 25 or 26 races or whatever, I think it’s good in one aspect but in other aspects, in how demanding becomes your life, at this point of my career, I consider that a good quality of life is more important than to do more seasons in F1.
“So if the calendar stays between 20-21, so this range that we know from the last couple of years, I’ll be happy to continue.
“If it’s increasing, like NASCAR, where they have 40 or 50 races, it’s not for me. It’s better for other drivers.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was also asked about calendar growth, saying: “I haven’t really given it any thought, but I understand what Fernando’s saying and tend to agree with him.”
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.