Renault leapfrogs Toro Rosso for P6 in constructors’ at season finale

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Renault arguably emerged as the biggest winner from Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after leapfrogging Toro Rosso in the final Formula 1 constructors’ standings, securing an uplift in prize money in the process for sixth place.

Renault entered the final race of the year trailing Toro Rosso by four points in the constructors’ standings, with Hulkenberg qualifying seventh on Saturday.

The German was hit with a five-second time penalty for cutting a corner in order to stay ahead of Sergio Perez on the opening lap, but was able to pull clear to make up for it through the opening stint.

Despite a slow pit stop, Hulkenberg held position after serving the penalty and finished six seconds clear of Perez at the checkered flag, bagging eight points for Renault.

With Toro Rosso failing to score after Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly took P15 and P16 respectively, Hulkenberg’s points haul was enough to lift Renault up to sixth in the final standings, clinching the additional prize money in the process.

“I knew that I had the five-second gap over Checo,” Hulkenberg told NBCSN. “I knew that. I made sure in the first stint that I had that.

“When I started to realize the pit stop was a bit longer and that I had some trouble on the rear-left, the rear-right, I was starting to get a bit nervous and starting to sweat.

“When you go down and out of the pit lane out of that tunnel, there is very little grip. It’s just a balancing act. That was a bit of a thriller.

“It was a very interesting first lap, very interesting couple of laps after the stop when I had to get by the Haas which is super-fast on the straight. And obviously I had Checo right behind me waiting to take advantage. But we managed to come out on top.

“Very decent end to the season, decent final result. That sixth position in the constructors, it’s not amazing but it’s good for us. It’s good to have that in our pocket now. I’m sure everyone is pleased and happy about that.”

Asked if the result would also offer a boost to Renault in its second season back in F1 as a constructor, Hulkenberg said: “Yeah it is. It is good to finish with a strong result. It helps everybody.

“We had a good package all of the second season. We just had so many issues as you know. We lost so many results and so many points along the way.

“It’s just about recovering some of what we lost, finishing on a positive note and going into the winter with our chins up.”

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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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.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

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 during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

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.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

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.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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