In 2010, the three-pointed star acquired a 75% stake in BrawnGP, the championship winning 2009 team. They were a renowned engine supplier for Mclaren and they also supplied engines for Sahara Force India team. It all started back in 1993 when Sauber was powered by the excellent Mercedes engine and later in 1995, they paired with Mclaren and their reign continued.
During their superb run, they won two consecutive drivers titles with Mika Hakkinen on board (1998 & 1999 ), and one with Lewis Hamilton in 2008. But what about their racing past and how did they get their Silver Arrows name??
Rewind back the racing history to the 19th century and there was one brand that stood tall, Mercedes-Benz. Even its moniker has got a story behind it. In June 3, 1934, their W25 racer was heavier by a kilo to the standard 750 kg weight limit. Alfred Neubauer decided not to make any technical changes to the car to get rid of that extra weight, so on the next racing morning at the Nurburgring, there appeared a car with all its traditional white paint scraped off. The shining, ever faster silver Arrows were born.
After few years, the German press gave the Silver Arrow sobriquet that turned out to become one of the lingering voices in motor racing. In 1923, Benz raced at the European GP held in Monza with their Rumpler-Tropfenwagen inspired Benz-Tropfenwagen, designed by Hans Nibel. After few years, due to financial crisis, they merged with Daimler and Daimler-Benz branded its cars as Mercedes-Benz.
Even though they resembled Auto Union cars, their inline 8-cylinder engine churned out 314 ps power. It had a supercharger, hydraulic-operated drum brakes, independent suspension and as the years passed by, their 4.7 L unit displaced near 500 ps. 1935 was an auspicious year, as they sealed the European and German champions title with Rudolf Carraciola. They decimated the competition, winning 9 out of 10 races. As a rivalry evolved between Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, the cars produced a staggering 650ps, racing over scarcely believable speeds of 400 kmph. W125 of 1937 was an example of it. A new formula was beckoned to make driving safer. 3 L supercharged and 4 L normally aspirated engines came in to the picture. Daimler-Benz’s answer was a 3L motor, which produced 430 ps.
The W154 won the 1938 and 1939 European champion’s title, and the V12 engine of W154 was further tuned to produce 480 ps to win 1939 title. It also won the famous Tripoli GP with Hermann Lang, Manfred Von Brauchitsch and Carraciola securing a historic triple finish. Carraciola won the 1938 European champion’s title. Alfred Neubauer was a charismatic character who developed a new 1.5L W165 racing car which produced a remarkable 254 ps.
Despite a single test run, Rudolf and Hermann outpaced other teams from Italy and Britain to mark a 1-2 on the podium. This V8 didn’t race after that though. Mercedes-Benz had the world staring at their Grand Prix excellence, but due to the outbreak of war, racing was abandoned.
The Stuttgart team appeared in racing again in 1954 and developed cars from scratch. The technology of racing cars along with new regulations were proven to be a big challenge for the team. They’d chosen to run the 2.5L 8-cylinder inline engines instead of the 750 cc supercharged formula. They called it W196R, which had a very light yet rigid chassis of 36Kg. The spaceframe concept was carried over from the 300SL and the body was streamlined magnesium-made, which gave an instant advantage of four seconds over its rivals.
Their return to F1 was a success as Juan Manuel Fangio beat the odds to win the 1954 and 1955 world title. They had five double finishes from him and Sir Stirling Moss in 1954 and 1955. They won a record 10 races in 13 meetings during that period. The 1955 Le Mans disaster, which killed their driver Pierre Levegh and 80 other spectators, put an end to Mercedes-Benz’s run of form. They withdrew from all forms of racing at the end of the 1955 season.
The Silver Arrows legacy was rewritten at the 2010 Formula One season with F1 legend Michael Schumacher and young German Nico Rosberg behind the wheels. It hasn’t been a great return, that’s clear, but in Formula One you’ve got to have faith in what you do and take small strides, which is what Mercedes GP is doing right now. They have increased their work force and appointed Aldo Costa and Geoff Wills to the technical line-up for this season. The days of gleaming Silver Arrows ruling the field is not far from reality, despite the car being too sensitive towards pirellis.