F1 Preview: 2016 European Grand Prix


The first back-to-back of the 2016 Formula 1 season is arguably one of the most brutal in the sport’s 66-year history.

Following an intriguing Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday in Montreal, the paddock had to swiftly jet across the Atlantic and over western Europe to get to Baku, Azerbaijan for this weekend’s European Grand Prix.

The intention to hold a grand prix in Baku was stated back in 2014, and it will finally become a reality on Sunday on a circuit comprising the streets in the heart of the city.

The Baku City Circuit is set to be the fastest street course on the F1 calendar, but also features one of the most challenging sections drivers have seen at Turns 8, 9 and 10 – tight, uphill and a blind exit could catch out many.

Lewis Hamilton arrives in Baku on a roll after two straight wins in Monaco and Canada, but can championship leader Nico Rosberg stop his streak and become Baku’s first winner?

Here are a few talking points ahead of the European Grand Prix weekend.

2016 European Grand Prix – Talking Points

Baku-na matata

There was a certain degree of scepticism surrounding the race in Baku when it was announced given the absence of racing history in Azerbaijan. The falling price of oil also raised concerns about the viability of the event, but the initial feedback from the paddock on Wednesday and Thursday has been overwhelmingly positive.

While it may seem like an injustice that nations such as France lack a grand prix despite having a rich racing heritage, new events can succeed without it. Abu Dhabi and Singapore are two examples, and Baku will hope to follow suit.

No margin for error

Since the first images of the planned layout in Baku were released earlier this year, the tight complex around the historic part of the city always seemed somewhat ambitious. The layout has been kept, meaning there will be zero margin for error.

“I think there’s a few people that are going to write off some chassis on Baku weekend – hopefully not me though!” quipped Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

“I can’t think of anything like Baku that’s currently on the calendar. It’s tough because there are a lot of third-gear corners, so you want a bit of downforce for those, but then you’ve got a 2.5 km straight, over 20 seconds of full throttle.”

Hamilton eyes the championship lead

In the space of two races and three weeks, Lewis Hamilton has gone from trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 43 points in the drivers’ championship to being only nine away. The reversal in fortunes is one that the Briton himself finds hard to fathom, yet he appears to have rediscovered his mojo.

Rosberg needs to respond quickly. He admitted in Canada that he felt “massively pissed off” with Hamilton for his Turn 1 move in the heat of the moment, but knew there was little to complain about – it’s racing.

Even a second place finish would be something for Rosberg in Baku. He may have won the first four races, but without a podium since Russia, the German is in a make-or-break phase for his championship.

Ferrari hopes to keep up Canada pace

Ferrari’s long-awaited engine update in Canada offered a significant uptake in pace, allowing Sebastian Vettel to run Hamilton close for victory. The battle between them is one all too rare in F1 given they are the two defining drivers of this decade.

Vettel’s charge to second will have filled Ferrari with confidence, even if the results leading up to it left much to be desired. He and teammate Kimi Raikkonen will know that Baku presents another opportunity, even if Red Bull and Mercedes should both be strong.

A three-way fight at the front could be on the cards – and what a place for it to happen.

Opportunity knocks for lower-midfield and backmarkers

The tight nature of the Baku City Circuit means that retirements and safety cars are likely on Sunday. As a result, there is an opportunity to be had for the teams in the lower-midfield and the backmarkers.

The likes of Haas, Renault, Sauber and Manor will all be hopeful of captializing on any opportunities that come their way. In Sauber’s case, a breakthrough score is desperately needed, while Haas will want to end its scoreless run since Russia.

For Renault, the race of attrition poses another challenge given it is reportedly arriving in Baku short on parts and without a spare chassis for either of its drivers after shunts in Monaco and Montreal.

And Manor? Races like this always bring back memories of Jules Bianchi’s charge to the points in Monaco two years ago. Pascal Wehrlein’s pace thus far has been massively impressive, so it is not out of the question.

2016 European Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Baku City Circuit
: 20
Lap Record: N/A
Tire Compounds: Medium/Soft/Super-Soft
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T20 to T1); T2 to T3

2016 European Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 6/17
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 9am ET 6/17
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 6am ET 6/18
Qualifying: NBCSN 9am ET 6/18
Race: NBCSN 8am ET 6/19

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.”