Will balance of power shift to Mercedes GP?
26 January, 2010
Jan.26 (Daniel Chalmers) It’s been quite a turnaround for Mercedes GP Petronas. Under the ownership of Honda they were the laughing stock of the paddock. They poured in hundreds of millions of pounds with no end result, apart from what could be described as a lucky victory in the rain at Budapest in 2006.
Then they didn’t exist at all, until Ross Brawn’s persistence to keep the team going for another season resulted in both championships titles in 2009.
Now all of a sudden with Mercedes taking a majority stake in the team, and the shock return of Michael Schumacher the re-named Mercedes GP team are now F1’s most powerful team, the reborn Silver Arrows.
In the nineties Williams were F1’s most powerful team, when they possessed the genius of Adrian Newey and the Renault engine which was the fastest at that time.
In the new millenium it was the combination of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt, and Rory Bryne that proved unstoppable.
Now Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher have linked up again, this time with Mercedes to try and add more silverware to their overflowing trophy cabinets.
Certainly the prospect of Brawn/Schumacher/Mercedes is enough to send a chill down the spine of all the team bosses in the pit lane.
Ross Brawn has won a staggering eight constructors championships and over 100 races during his glittering career. He has won the championship with three different teams: Benetton (1995), Ferrari (1999-2004) and Brawn (2009). Arguably that last achievement confirmed Brawn’s status as a legend in F1 history, taking a team from the grave to be champions.
Schumacher is already statistically the best driver of all time with seven world championships and 91 race victories. He is back and hungry for more. He isn’t back just for the thrill of it.
Brawn says of the seven times world champion: “He has shown amazing determination and commitment already. He has been to the factory many days, working with the engineers, and I don’t think the talent disappears.” He added: “If the talent eases off a little bit, you have the huge experience that he has to compensate.
Mercedes have a rich history of success in the sport too. They were a dominant force the 1930s, and were successful again in the 50s with Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss at the wheel.
They linked up with Mclaren in 1997. In total they won four championships together.
At the moment the Mercedes engine is considered to be the best performing engine, despite the fact that F1 is under the engine freeze regulations.
The performance of all the engines were going to be equalised for next season, but that is no longer on the cards.
So Mercedes will take that advantage into 2010 with them.
Mercedes have also attracted Petronas as their title sponsor in a 30 million pound deal. The attraction of the potential exposure levels on a front running car, and Michael Schumacher’s chest clearly winning them over.
No doubt there will be more companies queuing up to sponsor the team in the future for these reasons.
The further bad news for Mercedes’ rivals is that this season’s challenger is very well advanced in its development, despite the fact that Brawn GP faced a season long title challenge.
Brawn took the risk after their incredible start to 2009 to shift the focus to 2010 to ensure that they didn’t just end up being a one season wonder.
After the 2009 season finished Brawn said: “We decided at mid-season only to take a week to work on this year’s programme, while keeping the rest of the windtunnel time focused on next year”
Ross did admit that the focus was reverted back to 2009 for one week in the summer: “We took one week out of the wind-tunnel programme of the 2010 car and gave it to the 2009 car to keep the challenge going for the championship. That was the only slight compromise we made.”
Last year the move to use Mercedes engines was made very late in the day. Remember that this was a car that was originally built to accommodate the Honda engine. In order to play host to the Mercedes engine some big sacrifices had to be made to the car in order for the engine to fit.
This time around the team will have been able to design the car around the engine therefore able to optimise the car for best performance possible.
Brawn made it clear that the issues the BGP001 faced will be sorted for 2010.
He said: “The car is too heavy, the centre of gravity is too high, and there are things which are not good on the car which will be fixed for next year”
Despite these issues with the car it was still an absolute rocket, in the first half of the season at least. Imagine how quick it could be when all these problems are solved, and they unleash its full potential in 2010.
Mclaren and Ferrari have been established frontrunners for many years now. Mercedes are now set to join them, and are likely to become a major irritant to the pair of them over the next few years and beyond..
Ironically their rivals could have avoided all this coming to fruition. When Honda had left the sport in November FOTA (Formula 1 teams association) put serious effort in cutting costs to help Honda stay in the sport.
Nick Fry said: “Everyone here (FOTA) has helped us preserve our team, and myself, Ross (Brawn) and our 700 employees all thank them for that.”
Without this help the team would likely have shut down, and this new powerful F1 force would never have come to exist.
One wonders if some members of FOTA now regret helping out considering recent history.
Mercedes-Benz motorsport history
The return of the Silver Arrows in the 2010 Formula One World Championship with the new Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team begins the latest chapter in the proud 116 year history of motorsport success for Daimler and Mercedes-Benz.
The Silver Arrows were born on 3 June 1934 when Manfred von Brauchitsch won the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring at the wheel of a Mercedes W25. The car’s white paintwork had been sanded down to meet the weight requirements and the car raced in the silver colour of its aluminium body.
On 4 July 1954, the Silver Arrows returned for the first time: Juan Manuel Fangio drove his W196 streamliner to victory in the French Grand Prix at Reims which he won ahead of his team mate Karl Kling. It was the first Formula One race win for Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz has been a force in motor sport since 1894. The first four cars home in the race from Paris to Rouen on 22 July in that year were powered by a 954cc V2 engine designed by Gottlieb Daimler. This victory set the ball rolling and in subsequent decades, the marque won countless races. For the Nice-Salon-Nice race of 1901, Daimler’s cars were entered under the name Mercedes for the first time, named after the daughter of the Daimler importer and racing driver, Emil Jellinek. The event was won by the Mercedes of the German driver Wilhelm Werner.
|1903||Camille Jenatzy drives a Mercedes to victory in the Gordon Bennett race held in Ireland.|
|1908||Christian Lautenschlager wins the French Grand Prix in Dieppe, his Mercedes crossing the finish line ahead of the two Benz Grand Prix cars driven by the Frenchmen Héméry and Hanriot.|
|1914||The top three places in the French Grand Prix are filled by 4.5-litre Mercedes racing cars. The winner is Christian Lautenschlager. Ralph de Palma takes victory in a Mercedes in the Vanderbilt race in the USA.|
|1915||Ralph de Palma wins the Indianapolis 500.|
|1926||Rudolf Caracciola takes Mercedes to a first win in the German Grand Prix on the Avus circuit in Berlin.|
|1927||Caracciola drives a Mercedes S to victory in the Eifelrennen, the first to be held on the Nürburgring.|
|1930||Caracciola is crowned European Champion at the wheel of a Mercedes SSK sports car.|
|1931||Caracciola takes victory in the European Hill-Climb Championships in a Mercedes SSKL.|
|1934||Manfred von Brauchitsch wins the Eifelrennen in a Mercedes-Benz W25 built to comply with the regulations of the new 750kg Grand Prix formula. In order to meet the maximum weight limit, the car’s white paintwork has to be sanded down during the night, exposing its aluminium body. This heralds the birth of the Silver Arrows. Caracciola and Fagioli win the Grand Prix races in Italy and Spain.|
|1935||Mercedes sweeps to victory in seven Grand Prix races. Caracciola is crowned European Champion.|
|1936||Caracciola takes first place in the Grands Prix in Monaco and Tunis.|
|1937||Mercedes wins six Grands Prix: with Hermann Lang (2), Manfred von Brauchitsch (1) and Rudolf Caracciola (3).|
|1938||Mercedes takes four Grands Prix titles. Caracciola once again takes the European title.|
|1939||Mercedes wins five Grands Prix. Hermann Lang is the new European Champion.|
|1953||After the end of the Second World War, Mercedes-Benz resumes its motorsport activities, announcing its return in sports car racing. Hermann Lang and Fritz Rieß drive a 300 SL to victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, and Karl Kling wins the Carrera Panamericana Mexico.|
|1954||Mercedes-Benz returns to Formula One with a triumphant 1-2 victory by Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling in the French Grand Prix. The race marks the debut of the W196 car powered by a 2.5-litre eight-cylinder in-line engine. Fangio follows up the win with three more first places to clinch the World Championsh|
|1955||Mercedes-Benz wins six Grand Prix races with the W196. Stirling Moss takes his first British Grand Prix victory at Aintree; Fangio records five race victories and wins his second World Championship with Mercedes. At the end of 1955 Mercedes-Benz ceases its involvement in motorsport.|
|1988||On its return to motor port with the Swiss Sauber team, Mercedes-Benz enters the World Sports Prototype Championship, lining up on the grid with its partner AMG in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).|
|1989||Mercedes-Benz wins the World Sports Prototype Constructors’ Championship and Jean-Louis Schlesser takes the Drivers’ title. The C9 finishes first and second in the 24 Heures du Mans.|
|1990||For the second year in succession, Mercedes-Benz wins the Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles in the World Sports Prototype Championship with the Jean-Louis Schlesser/Mauro Baldi driver partnership. Mercedes juniors Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger experience a racing baptism of fire in Group C sports cars.|
|1991||The Schumacher/Wendlinger junior driver team takes victory with the C291 at Autopolis, Japan; Mercedes-Benz announces its withdrawal from the World Sports Prototype Championship and its decision to concentrate instead on the DTM. The Sauber team switches its attentions to Formula One.|
|1992||Klaus Ludwig and the AMG team win the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) with the Mercedes 190 E.|
|1993||Sauber receives the support of Mercedes-Benz in Formula One -“concept by Mercedes- Benz” – and finishes in sixth position in the Constructors’ rankings, after taking fifth position (J. J. Lehto) in the very first race. Late that year, Mercedes-Benz announces its motorsport concept for 1994. Following the acquisition of a holding in Ilmor Engineering, the new package now covers the partnership with Sauber in Formula One, with Mercedes-Benz as engine supplier, and with Penske in the IndyCar race series. Mercedes celebrates its 50th win in the DTM and finishes the season as runner-up in the Championship.|
|1994||Al Unser Jr. wins the Indianapolis 500 in a Penske car powered by a Mercedes-Benz pushrod engine. Klaus Ludwig and the AMG team take the DTM title with the Mercedes- Benz C-class. Mercedes drivers win eleven of the series’ 24 races. On 28th October 1994 Mercedes-Benz and McLaren announce the signing of the contract covering their long-term partnership in Formula One. The agreement takes effect from 1995.|
|1995||McLaren Mercedes finishes fourth in the Constructors’ Championship in its first year as a Formula One team. Mika Hakkinen takes second place in Italy and Japan. Bernd Schneider drives his AMG C-class car to victory in both the DTM and the International Touring Car Championship (ITC). Al Unser Jr. finishes as runner-up in the IndyCar series.|
|1996||McLaren Mercedes takes fourth position in the Constructors’ rankings. Mika Hakkinen is fifth in the Drivers’ standings with David Coulthard in seventh place. Together they achieve six podium finishes and score points on fifteen occasions. Bernd Schneider is runner-up in the ITC with his AMG C-class, with Mercedes drivers taking six race victories.|
|1997||Team McLaren Mercedes’ David Coulthard wins the Australian and Italian Grands Prix races to take third place in the Drivers’ table. Mika Hakkinen takes the chequered flag first in the European Grand Prix and finishes the season in sixth position.With six wins from eleven races AMG-Mercedes and Bernd Schneider clinch the FIA GT Championship. In the CART series Mercedes-Benz takes the manufacturers’ title after notching up nine wins in 17 races.|
|1998||Mika Hakkinen and Team McLaren Mercedes take both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles. Hakkinen wins eight times, with David Coulthard taking one Grand Prix victory, and third place in the rankings. Klaus Ludwig, Ricardo Zonta and AMG Mercedes pick up the drivers’ and team prizes in the FIA GT Championship. AMG Mercedes win a record ten out of ten races. Greg Moore is victorious in two CART races with his Mercedes-Benz powered Reynard.|
|1999||Mika Hakkinen retains his Formula One World Championship crown with five Grands Prix victories. Team McLaren Mercedes finishes as runner-up in the Constructors’ Championship. David Coulthard wins two Grands Prix and finishes the season fourth in the Drivers’ standings.|
|2000||Team McLaren Mercedes are the runners-up in both the Drivers’ Championship, with Mika Hakkinen, and the Constructors’ rankings. Mika Hakkinen wins four Grands Prix and David Coulthard finishes in third position overall, after three individual victories. Bernd Schneider takes the title in the new-format DTM with six wins.|
|2001||Team McLaren Mercedes secures the runner-up positions in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, with David Coulthard finishing second and Mika Hakkinen fifth. Both drivers take two victories. Bernd Schneider takes the second successive title in the new DTM with three wins. With eight wins from ten races Mercedes-Benz is again the most successful manufacturer in the German touring car series. Mika Hakkinen stops racing in Formula One at the end of season.|
|2002||Team McLaren Mercedes finishes the Constructors’ Championship in third place overall. David Coulthard, who wins the Monaco Grand Prix, ends up fifth overall in the Drivers’ Championship whilst his new team mate Kimi Raikkonen comes home sixth. Both drivers, as well as third driver Alexander Wurz, form the Team McLaren Mercedes line-up for 2003. In the DTM, Mercedes-Benz drivers win five out of ten races, among those is series newcomer Jean Alesi. Bernd Schneider takes the runner-up position and Mercedes-AMG/Vodafone win the teams’ title.|
|2003||David Coulthard wins the season’s first race at Melbourne with Kimi Raikkonen clinching his first Grand Prix victory two weeks later at Kuala Lumpur. The Finn finishes the season runner-up; after 16 races he was two points behind champion Michael Schumacher. Team McLaren Mercedes finishes the Constructors’ Championship in third place overall. Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) clinches his fourth DTM title to add to his previous in 1995, 2000 and 2001. Mercedes-Benz drivers win nine out of ten races. In the new Formula 3 Euro Series, seven drivers in three teams race with the Mercedes-Benz engine M271 achieving six victories out of 20 races. Christian Klien in the Mücke team’s Dallara Mercedes comes home runner-up in the championship and wins the prestigious F3 Masters at Zandvoort. He graduates to Formula One for 2004.|
|2004||Kimi Raikkonen wins the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, comes home second at both Silverstone and Säo Paulo and ends up third in the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix. In the Drivers’ World Championship he finishes seventh overall; Team McLaren Mercedes is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. David Coulthard leaves the team after 150 Formula 1 races with Juan Pablo Montoya becoming Kimi’s new team mate for 2005. Gary Paffett (C-Class AMG-Mercedes) wins three DTM Championship rounds as well as the Shanghai invitational. The HWA team rookie ends up runner-up. Dallara Mercedes driver Jamie Green wins the Formula 3 Euro Series title. His team mate Alexandre Prémat scores victories in the prestigious Masters at Zandvoort and the season highlight at Macau.|
|2005||Team McLaren Mercedes wins 10 out of 19 Formula One races they competed in. Kimi Raikkonen wins seven Grands Prix and Juan Pablo Montoya takes three victories. The Finn ends the season as runner-up; the team finishes the Constructors’ Championship also in second place. Gary Paffett clinches the DTM title. The Englishman wins five out of 11 races; Jean Alesi, Mika Hakkinen and Bernd Schneider take three more victories for Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz also clinch the manufacturers’ title and – with DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes – the teams championship. 20-year old Lewis Hamilton who has been supported by Formula One partners McLaren and Mercedes-Benz since 1998 wins the Formula 3 Euro Series. At the wheel of the French ASM team’s Dallara Mercedes, Hamilton achieves 15 wins in 20 races.|
|2006||Team McLaren Mercedes finishes third in the Constructors’ World Championship. Kimi Raikkonen ends up fifth overall in the drivers’ ranking whilst Juan Pablo Montoya comes home eighth. Following Juan Pablo’s departure to Nascar Pedro de la Rosa replaced the Columbian and finishes 11th in the final ranking. As Kimi leaves the team at the end of the year, the driver line up of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for 2007 consists of double World Champion Fernando Alonso and GP2 Champion Lewis Hamilton, as well as the test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett. In the DTM Bernd Schneider clinches his fifth title win. Mercedes-Benz drivers win six out of ten races with Bruno Spengler taking four and Bernd Schneider two victories respectively. McLaren junior Paul di Resta wins the Formula 3 Euroseries.|
|2007||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso take eight race wins out of 17 Grands Prix. With nine consecutive podium finishes in the first nine Grands Prix of his career and a total of four wins, Lewis is the most successful rookie in 58 years of Formula One history. He ends the season runner-up with 109 points, one point behind the World Champion. Fernando Alonso is third overall, also with 109 points. In the DTM, Mercedes-Benz drivers achieve seven out of ten race wins, six of them with the new AMG-Mercedes C-Class. Bruno Spengler ends the championship runner-up. The final race of the season at Hockenheim is the brand’s 300th DTM race and Jamie Green’s win is the 141st victory for Mercedes-Benz in the championship. Romain Grosjean wins the Formula 3 Euro Series with a Dallara Mercedes.|
|2008||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes the Formula One World Championship title winning five out of 18 Grands Prix. He wins the title in a dramatic final race in Brazil when he clinched fifth place in the final corner which was enough to secure the Championship win ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. Lewis’s team mate Heikki Kovalainen won his first GP in Hungary and finished the season seventh overall. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is runner-up in the constructors’ ranking. In the DTM, Mercedes-Benz drivers win five of 11 races. Paul Di Resta ends the season second overall whilst Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG Mercedes takes the team title. Nico Hülkenberg wins the Formula 3 Euro Series with a Dallara Mercedes.|
|2009||Formula One cars with Mercedes-Benz engines win 10 out of 17 races of the season and customer team Brawn GP takes the Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wins the Hungarian Grand Prix – the first Formula One win for a car with KERS Hybrid – and the Singapore GP and ends the World Championship fifth overall. Heikki Kovalainen ends up 12th.In the DTM, Mercedes-Benz drivers win six out of 10 races. The Salzgitter / Mercedes-Benz Bank team wins the Teams’ Championship. Gary Paffett comes home runner-up in the drivers’ ranking. Jules Bianchi wins the Formula 3 Euro Series with a Dallara Mercedes.
At the end of the year, Daimler and Aabar Investments PJSC together acquire a 75.1 percent share of Brawn GP and announce that the team will participate in the 2010 season as the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Formula One Team with seven-times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Daimler AG and the McLaren Group agree that McLaren will buy back Daimler’s 40-percent share of the McLaren Group.