#NoMatterWhat - The story behind the rise of Mercedes AMG Petronas
How Mercedes AMG Petronas became the powerhouse that they are in Formula Óne currently.
They’ve just sealed their second constructors’ championship in a row, and Mercedes AMG Petronas are on a roll, with their star driver Lewis Hamilton winning his 2nd drivers’ championship in a row and third overall.
But the beginning of 2014 had told a different story. That story had been tilted largely in favour of Infiniti Red Bull Racing and the unstoppable Sebastian Vettel, who took a staggering 4 world championships in a row to absolutely dominate proceedings from 2010.
Mercedes have been the team to beat this year and last, with their vehicles and engines far superior to any of their competitors. While that may be the ‘commonly held perception’, it’s one that even their rivals agree with; earlier this year, even Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene admitted they “could not catch” the team.
2014 saw the end of the powerful, loud V8 engines that F1 was known for, with the sport moving towards the less powerful, but more efficient V6 engines instead. Currently on the PU106 hybrid, Mercedes have won a staggering 16 of 20 races this year, and were on the podium for all but two.
Although they weren’t always Mercedes AMG Petronas, the team has had its glories. Formerly in F1 as the Silver Arrows (their nickname to date courtesy their logo) way back in the 1930s, they were Daimler-Benz for a fleeting moment, only returning as Mercedes F1 in 2010. Then, they were known as Mercedes GP, and in essence absorbed Brawn GP, who had won the 2009 World Championship with their driver Jenson Button.
Ross Brawn came on to the team as principal, and immediately signed Germany’s Nico Rosberg, formerly of Williams, to drive alongside seven-time World Champion and one of the greatest in the F1 pantheon, Michael Schumacher.
Brawn had been immensely successful the previous year, but that success had been even more significant in light of the fact that Brawn GP had been running on Mercedes’ high-performance engines on a very tight budget; far less than that of their more powerful competitors.
Brawn helped guide the team to the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in its debut year - the first time it had happened in the history of the sport. Their initial year was middling to best for Schumacher, who for the first time in nearly two decades finished the year without a win, podium or fastest lap.
They would finish that year and the next at fourth in the constructors’ championships, and at the end of 2012, the legendary Schumacher announced his second and final retirement from the sport.
That year, the team changed their name to bring on the name of their high-performance division, AMG, and thereafter became known as Mercedes AMG Petronas. They signed the then McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who by then had already won his first drivers’ championship (in 2008).
He came onto the team during a period of absolute domination by Red Bull, but the pair managed to pull Mercedes to second in the constructors’ championships in 2013.
The next year, Hamilton blazed through his competition to take his first ever Grand Chelem - when a driver has fastest lap, pole position, and wins the race in a single race at that year’s Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit.
He’d go on to decimate his competition, with teammate Nico Rosberg winning 5 races himself - and the trophy for most pole positions. Rosberg has been on form this year as well, winning sporadically in the earlier part of the year, but really coming into his own in the last 6 races, on pole for all of them.
Although he retired in Russia with vehicle issues after being on pole, he finished the following race - the American GP at the Circuit of the Americas - in 2nd behind his teammate; it was at that race that Hamilton sealed the 2015 championship.
This perhaps was a catalyst in Rosberg finding renewed form, going on to win the last 3 races of the year on the trot. The team closed out the year in absolutely dominant fashion, with every one of their rivals admitting they were the team to beat in 2016.
With Ferrari now pledging to have improved engines and take over that mantle, 2016 promises to be an exciting season for F1 enthusiasts where Mercedes will still remain the team to beat.