Mercedes-Benz is celebrating several big victories, racer birthdays and important motorsport milestones in 2020. Let's take a look.
Ten years ago, in 2010, the famous "Silver Arrows" returned to Formula 1 with its own factory team. This was marked the start of a massively successful chapter for the brand in F1. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team has achieved no fewer than Championship doubles (Constructor & Driver) in a row since the return. In doing so, it has written motorsport history - never before has a Formula 1 team achieved such a feat.
The factory team has won the Constructors’ Championship from 2014 to 2019. The Driver's World Championship has been won five times by Lewis Hamilton (2014 and 2015 as well as 2017 to 2019) and once by Nico Rosberg (2016).
The 6-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 35th birthday on 7 January. Lewis was born in Stevenage (England) in 1985 and began his motorsport career in a kart at the age of 8. He has been driving in Formula 1 since 2007, winning his first World Championship title as early as 2008 with McLaren-Mercedes.
In 2013, he joined the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. One year later he secured his second World Championship title. He has since gone on to repeat this triumph 4 more times for the Silver Arrows: in 2015 as well as from 2017 to 2019. He secured his sixth title in the third-to-last race of the 2019 season, at the United States Grand Prix on 3 November 2019. In doing so, he overtook Juan Manuel Fangio, the Mercedes-Benz star of the 1950s (5 World Championship titles). Only Michael Schumacher (seven titles) managed to one-up him.
Jenson Button, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion, is celebrating his 40th birthday on 19 January 2020. Born on 19 January 1980 in Frome (England), the racing driver began the 2009 season for the new Brawn GP Formula 1 team, whose GP 001 racing car was equipped with an engine by Mercedes-Benz. Button secured the Formula 1 World Championship in the penultimate race of the season. Brawn GP was the nucleus for the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 factory team founded in the following year.
The 7-times Formula One world champion, still recovering from his skiing accident in 2013, was born 51 years ago on 3 January 1969. From 1990 on he took important early steps in his career with Mercedes-Benz as racing driver in Group C and DTM. When the brand re-joined Formula One as a works team in 2010, he became a driver of the new silver arrow.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum displays Formula 1 World Championship vehicles from more than 65 years in the Legends 7: Silver Arrows – Races and Records exhibition area. The Mercedes-AMG F1 W07 Hybrid driven by Nico Rosberg in 2016 is the current reminder of the most recent World Championships team. For the two World Championship titles for Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and 1955, there are the 2 Mercedes-Benz W 196 R with streamlined bodies and free-standing wheels.
The Championships of Mika Häkkinen in 1998 as well as Lewis Hamilton in 2008 are represented by the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 and MP4-23 Formula 1 racing cars. Furthermore, the famous Silver Arrows of the 1930s, with which Rudolf Caracciola became European Champion three times (1935, 1937 and 1938) are a part of the permanent exhibition in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
A decade ago, the then-new Mercedes-Benz F1 factory team had a connection to 1955. Juan Manuel Fangio won the first race of the 1955 Formula 1 season 65 years ago, the Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires on 16 January 1955, with the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Formula 1 racing car. Fangio secured his second F1 World Championship title with the brand from Stuttgart in 1955; it was his third Championship overall. After this season, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from racing.
Monte Carlo Triple
Mercedes-Benz's focus then shifted to rallies with close-to-series-production competitive vehicles. The early successes included the triple victory at the renowned Monte Carlo Rally 60 years ago: the 29th edition of the rally was held from 18 to 24 January 1960 over a route spanning 3567 kilometres. Walter Schock and Rolf Moll led the first German overall victory with the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) ahead of Eugen Böhringer and Hermann Socher as well as Eberhard Mahle and Roland Ott – also in 220 SEs.
The victory in commercial vehicles at the Paris–Dakar Rally 35 years ago was attained by a Mercedes-Benz team for the fourth time in a row: the classic rally, held between 1 and 22 January 1985, was won by Karl-Friedrich and Jost Capito in a Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 1300 L in the truck class. They thereby followed Pierre Laleu, Daniel Durce and Patrick Venturini with Mercedes-Benz 1936 AK (1984) as well as Georges Groine, Thierry de Saulieu and Bernard Malfériol with Mercedes-Benz 1936 AK (1983). Groine, de Saulieu and Malfériol also won the commercial vehicle class of the 1982 Paris–Dakar Rally with a Unimog U 1700 L ahead of Pierre Laleu and Bernard Langlois with a Unimog U 1300 L.
Alongside races and rallies, chasing speed records have also always been a part of the Mercedes-Benz motorsport history. At a meeting in Daytona (Florida) in 1905, 115 years ago, for example, H. L. Bowden took part in a record vehicle which was powered by not one, but 2 Mercedes 60 hp engines. On 26 January, Edward R. Thomas set a world record with 147.9 km/h in Daytona at a 10-mile race for Mercedes drivers. A total of three world records and three American records were set at the motorsport event.