If you’re following the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, you’ll know that they are currently doing very well. Their two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, are far ahead in the points, and they are streets ahead in the constructor’s championship.
Although Mercedes-Benz had won three titles in the pre-war European Championship, its Formula One history was initially short-lived. They entered Formula One in 1954 with the Mercedes-Benz W196, a technologically advanced car for the time. It was piloted by Juan Manuel Fangio, the 1951 champion, who transferred mid-season from Maserati to Mercedes-Benz for their debut. He won the race, the Paris Grand Prix, and went on to lead Mercedes to victory in that year’s Driver’s Championship. The following year they added Sterling Moss to the team and their success, with the two drivers finishing first and second in the championship. Following the tragic death of Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh and more than 80 spectators in the Le Mans race that June, however, they subsequently withdrew from F1.
That was it for Mercedes’ F1 aspirations for many decades, although it did return, renamed Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, to provide engines for other teams from 1994 onwards.
It was not until 2010, however, that Mercedes returned to the fray in full force, when it bought a 45.1% stake in the Brawn GP team, which had seen great success in its maiden season with Jenson Button. Continuing to work in Brackley, UK, the team was rebranded the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team. Petronas is a Malaysian oil supplier that sponsors the team.
They hired Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher to accompany existing Brawn driver Jenson Button, but their first season together saw minimal success: with Mercedes providing engines to Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, the advantage was diminished. Rosberg finished seventh, whilst Mercedes came fourth in the Constructor’s Championship.
In 2011 Daimler and Aabar purchased an additional stage in the team, and the new MGP W02 was used. The season was pretty dismal, with the highest placement being Schumacher’s fourth place in Canada, and the team was once again fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
In 2012, the team changed its name to Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, and caused controversy with their Mercedes F1 W03 model, which featured what some described as a ‘radical’ rear wing. Finally, in the Chinese Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg won the first pole position for the team – the first for Mercedes in 57 years. He also became the first German driver to win a Grand Prix driving a German car since Hermann Lang’s victory in 1939.
As Schumacher was unsure of his future career in the sport, 2013 saw the substitution of former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton in his place, signing a three year deal. They had several wins this season, with Rosberg’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, followed by Hamilton’s win in the Hungarian Grand Prix. These results, plus a slew of other points place finishes, meant that Mercedes finished second in that year’s Constructor’s Championship.
Both Rosberg and Hamilton stayed on for 2014, with the pair proving to be a fiery and eminently watchable combination. A slew of podium finishes ensued, many of them 1-2 for Mercedes, with the team accruing hundreds of points in both championships.
Although Mercedes has garnered more than 100 wins as an engine supplier, ranked fourth in Formula One history, this year’s championship shows that it is finally going to come back to prominence as a standalone team. Watch the rest of this year’s F1 to see how they do, or come to Signature for a taste of what excitement Mercedes‘ road cars can offer.