Stuttgart: After the great “125 Years of Motorsport” anniversary at Mercedes-Benz, the brand is celebrating further great racing moments from its history in 2020. The highlights include the anniversary of the return to Formula 1 as a factory team in 2020 and legendary rally victories. Moreover, Mercedes-Benz drivers are also celebrating big birthdays.
Double sixes: In 2010, the Silver Arrows returned to Formula 1 with their own factory team. This was the start of the latest successful chapter of Mercedes-Benz in the Grand Prix sport. Today’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team has attained a total of six Championship doubles in a row since this comeback. 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. With this team, the World Championships have been won five times by Lewis Hamilton (2014 and 2015 as well as 2017 to 2019) and once by Nico Rosberg (2016). In 2019, Valtteri Bottas became Formula 1 World Championship runner-up for the first time.
World Champion birthday 1: The six-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is celebrating his 35th birthday on 7 January 2020. Lewis was born in Stevenage (England) in 1985 and began his motorsport career in a kart at the age of eight. 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 as a driver. In 2014, Formula 1 began a new era with vehicles with hybrid drive, and Lewis secured his second World Championship title. He has since gone on to repeat this triumph four 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 (five World Championship titles). Only Michael Schumacher (seven titles) managed to one-up him.
World Champion birthday 2: 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 HighPerformanceEngines (today Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains). 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.
World Champion birthday 3: Mercedes-Benz Classic wishes Michael Schumacher all the very best. The seven-times Formula One world champion 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. He played an important role in developing the long-term capabilities of the team for future successes in Formula One.
Formula Silver Arrows: 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 of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. For the two World Championship titles for Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and 1955, there are the two 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.
Farewell to the race circuit: Ten years ago, the new Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 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 himself his second Formula 1 World Championship title with the brand from Stuttgart in 1955; it was his third Championship overall. After this season, the racing department of the brand withdrew from racing on a race circuit at the height of its success for the time being.
Monte triple: The new motorsport focus of Mercedes-Benz was on 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 SE.
Championship cars: From the 1950s right until the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz used vehicles that were close to series production highly successfully in rallies. The modifications include the reinforcement of chassis elements, larger fuel tanks, the modification of the engine characteristics as well as adjustments to the transmission and axle reduction ratio. The Mercedes-Benz 220 SE, which won the Monte Carlo Rally 60 years ago, was also prepared in this way. With these “tail fin” saloons, the brand from Stuttgart won the European Rally Championships in 1960 and 1962.
Dakar tradition: 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.
Need for speed: Alongside races and rallies, records have also always been a part of the Mercedes-Benz motorsport history. At the meeting in Daytona (Florida) in 1905, 115 years ago, for example, H. L. Bowden took part in a record vehicle which was powered by no fewer than two 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.