Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

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With the FIA Formula 1 World Championship a week away from opening its 2018 season at the Australian Grand Prix, news from F1 this past week quieted down somewhat, as teams regroup following two weeks of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, a few F1 items were in the news this past week for varying reasons. A recap of noteworthy headlines is below.

Hamilton Still Negotiating New Mercedes Contract

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the drivers parade before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has had ongoing negotiations with Mercedes AMG Petronas to return to the team after his current contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, but a new contract has not yet been signed, leading some circles to believe that there might be a rift between the two sides.

However, Hamilton rebuffed such sentiment this week.

“I’m really super relaxed, I don’t feel pressure from the team, I don’t feel pressure within myself,” Hamilton said in a story posted on the Express, an outlet based in London. “I want to continue racing so I’ll have to do a contract at some stage but I’m definitely not going to do it when people want me to do it.”

Hamilton enters 2018 once again as a championship favorite.

Jean Todt Expresses Optimism About 2021 Rules

SOCHI, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 10: FIA President Jean Todt arrives for a FIA press briefing regarding the Japanese Grand Prix after practice ahead of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

As discussions about the 2021 technical regulations continue, a pervasive feeling is that teams want a deal finalized sooner rather than later, possibly as soon as midway through the 2018 season.

While hitting that target is certainly a tall task, Jean Todt did express optimism that a deal can be reached over the next several months.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to find a solution,” he said in a piece posted on Crash.com. “I think we need to be fair to the investments which have been done in Formula 1. Clearly we don’t want to use anybody as a whole or anybody as an engine supplier.”

However, Todt also acknowledged that there is still a long way to go before an agreement is reached.

“It’s a work in process. We are just starting the 2018 Formula 1 season and we are now also working on the 2021 regulations,” he explained. “Clearly – and it’s something I’ve instructed our people – I think it would be very unfair to destroy all of what has been done on the engine to start with a completely white piece of paper.”

Todt added, “So for me it is essential that we optimize what has been developed, what is known. We know that technology is progressing very much. Not only on complication but also on simplification, so the whole idea is to work on what are the engine rules now and make them better.”

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 lead Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 into turn one at the start during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A new procedure for 2018 is the introduction of standing restarts following red flags.

Some drivers, such as Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean, have voiced concerns about the new policy, citing that a lack of heat in the tires could wreak havoc once racing resumed.

However, race director Charlie Whiting does not believe that will be the case.

“I’m not too concerned about that. I think the grip was quite low in Barcelona anyway. They didn’t put new tyres on, did they? Because it was a quick procedure. I’m not overly concerned about that,” he said in a story on Crash.com.

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Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s