Sebastian Vettel says he is “not too stressed” despite losing the lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship for the first time this season after a disappointing display from Ferrari in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel arrived at Monza bidding to deliver Ferrari a first home win since 2010, only for him to struggle through both qualifying and the race, eventually finishing third, over half a minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.
The result saw Hamilton move into the lead of the drivers’ championship by three points with seven races remaining, having wiped away Vettel’s advantage in the past two races.
Vettel brushed off the result at Monza, putting Ferrari’s struggles down to a lack of confidence in the SF70H car which was always tipped to lose out to Mercedes given the high-speed nature of the circuit.
“I think we have some answers. It’s not always easy to turn them into solutions,” Vettel told NBCSN after the race when asked about Ferrari’s struggles.
“Equally I know that Monza is a very specific track. If you don’t have 100 per cent confidence, then you can lose quite a bit of time fairly easily.
“I’m not too stressed, and very much looking forward to the next races. I know this team has got a lot in them. We need to keep pushing, no doubt.
“Mercedes is still very strong, and a little bit ahead at the season, but it’s not the end of the season.”
Ferrari is expected to enjoy the upper hand over Mercedes in Singapore in two weeks’ time, but Vettel refused to make any predictions as to whether he would reclaim the championship lead at Marina Bay.
“I can’t make any promises, and to be honest, lead or no lead, it’s better to be in the lead,” Vettel said.
“But it’s more important to be in the lead after the last race. The rest nobody remembers.”
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. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. 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.