2015 Australian Grand Prix Preview


After a long and turbulent winter, Formula 1 gets back in business this weekend at its traditional curtain-raiser event: the Australian Grand Prix.

Sunny Melbourne plays host to F1 for the 20th time in 2015, having welcomed its first race back in 1996. The Albert Park circuit has lost none of its charm or challenge over the past two decades though, and the drivers will be keen to shake off any remaining rust from the winter ahead of Sunday’s race.

Following his title victory in Abu Dhabi last November, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton enters the new season with his tail up, knowing that a third championship is well within his grasp. The German team appears to have lost none of its advantage from last year, gapping the field by over one second per lap during testing. Once again, it appears that Hamilton’s biggest rival could be just across the garage in the form of Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes aside, a great deal has changed ahead of the new season. Red Bull begins life without Sebastian Vettel in Australia, with ex-Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat swiftly being promoted up in place of the German driver. Daniel Ricciardo (pictured) will want to kick off the team’s new era in style at his home race, whilst Vettel now finds himself at Ferrari, fulfilling a lifelong ambition by following in Michael Schumacher’s footsteps.

The man he replaced at Maranello, Fernando Alonso, will not be in Melbourne following an accident in testing, with Kevin Magnussen set to join Jenson Button in kicking off McLaren’s new era. The British team has reunited with Honda for 2015, but teething problems with the MP4-30’s power unit mean that any points finish on Sunday would be a welcome result at Woking.

Throw in Manor’s return and Sauber’s driver quagmire, and you can see that the opening race of the 2015 season has the makings of a classic. Here’s our full preview of the race.

2015 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Early advantages

Judging by pre-season testing, this year’s battle for the drivers’ championship will once again be contested by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Although this is only the first race of the year and may have very little bearing on the title race – Rosberg won in Australia last year, Hamilton retired – it’s a good chance for one of the Mercedes drivers to get an early edge. Already, we are gearing up for another great on-track battle between these two, and an early treat in Melbourne would go down very well.

Psychologically, an early win in Australia could be crucial. If Hamilton can put together a winning streak to start the season, picking up where he left off in 2014, Rosberg would surely be left demoralized. If Rosberg could do the same though, the balance of power would tip again. The big thing to remember is that Hamilton has the momentum at the start of the year – it’s just a question of using it.

Who can stand out as the best of the rest?

Testing may have clearly shown that Mercedes will be leading the way in Melbourne, but the battle for second place is far harder to predict. Williams finished as the second-quickest team in testing, whilst Ferrari fared very well in Jerez and appears to have made serious progress over the winter. Red Bull is likely to be vying at the front of the field once again, whilst even Lotus made an impression in pre-season, making the race for P2 behind Mercedes a close one.

All of the teams have said the same thing: wait until Sunday in Melbourne before making a decision. And rightly so. Only then will we get a true understanding of the pecking order, but if we are to make an educated guess from testing, it appears that Williams could be leading the way. Who knows: a repeat of Spa last year for Mercedes, and all of a sudden, the race for P2 could be a race to win a grand prix. The fight is very open indeed.

The kids are alright

Four drivers will make their Formula 1 debuts in Australia on Sunday: Roberto Merhi, Felipe Nasr (well, maybe – see below), Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen. At just 17 years old, Verstappen is by far the most inexperienced of the quartet, and will become the youngest ever driver to start an F1 race this weekend. The Dutchman has sparked controversy in F1 due to his age, but he isn’t worried about making his debut, believing that he is more than ready. Verstappen’s performances in testing and practice last year certainly suggest that he is, but a strong display in Australia would go a long way to answering his critics.

Merhi and Sainz will both be flying the flag for Spain on Sunday in Fernando Alonso’s absence, and both know that questions about their ability do remain. Sainz is only in F1 this year by virtue of Vettel’s move to Ferrari, whilst Merhi was drafted in at the last minute by Manor on a deal that is only for the “opening rounds” of the season.

As for Nasr? Well, read on…

Whose seat is it anyway…

The Sauber debacle leading into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix has been nothing short of farcical. Put simply: Sauber needed money last year, so signed a number of drivers in a variety of roles; Giedo van der Garde was its reserve driver, but had a contract confirming he would have a race seat in 2015; the team signed Nasr and Marcus Ericsson anyway; van der Garde took the case to the Australian courts, who have now said he must race for the team.

Basically, Sauber has three drivers under contract for this weekend and only two cars to put them in. The end result of this mess is very hard to predict.

On Thursday, Sauber’s appeal against the court’s judgement on safety grounds was thrown out (a ridiculous argument), but now one final hearing is due for Friday in Melbourne, just two hours before FP1. Basically, Sauber may be running down the clock, but the court was interested to know what assets the team has in Melbourne, suggesting that direct action may be taken if need be.

Manor’s false start?

In better news, Manor Marussia F1 Team – or simply “Manor” as it’ll be known – is back in business. After going bust following last year’s Russian Grand Prix, the Marussia operation has been saved and has somehow managed to get to Australia for the first race of the year. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens will be racing for the team in a modified version of the 2014 car, meaning that they won’t be competitive, but at least they will be on the grid.

Or will they? According to reports coming out of Melbourne, Manor is having problems with its engine software, meaning that its cars may not be able to take part in any of the sessions this weekend. By turning up in Australia, the team has secured itself last year’s prize money, but it will nevertheless be a disappointing start to the year if this turns out to be true.

Australian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Albert Park
Laps: 58
Corners: 16
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:24.125 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:44.231
2014 Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:32.478
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T16 to T1); T2 to T3

Australian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 9:30p ET 3/12
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 1:30a ET 3/13
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 12:30a ET 3/14
Qualifying: NBCSN 2a ET 3/14
Race: NBCSN 12:30a ET 3/15

You can view the full broadcasting schedule for the Australian Grand Prix here.

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”