Pioneer To Dominator: Mercedes Benz in Formula One
On the day that the Mercedes-Benz Formula One team launch their latest challenger, the W11, naturally, all thoughts will be on whether Mercedes can clinch a 7th consecutive title double. Whilst recent successes dominate the headlines for the Silver Arrows, their F1 story runs far deeper and is a story that involves success as a works team and engine supplier.
Formula One, the so-called pinnacle of motorsport and what better place for a manufacturer to showcase their wares to the masses than on the stage of a global sporting event. Beamed to millions of homes around the world F1 has been an important platform for car manufacturers not only from a marketing point of view but as a way of using the sport as a technological proving ground for new technologies to be applied to their latest road cars.
It used to be said that if you ‘win on Sunday, you’ll sell on Monday’ and Mercedes performance on the race track has undoubtedly helped its road car standing.
Mercedes first made their first Formula One appearance way back in 1954. They stayed in the sport for two seasons and in that time took their first Grand Prix victory in 1954 and helped to steer F1 great, Juan Manuel Fangio to two Driver World Championships in 54’ and 55’ respectively, despite this success Mercedes withdrew and weren’t seen again until the 1994 season, an absence of 39 years.
For the 1994 season, Mercedes returned in a joint partnership with British high-performance engine manufacturers Ilmor, a company the marque later acquired. For its return season it powered the Sauber Formula One teams C13 machines however this partnership with the Swiss, Sauber team came to an end at the close of the 94 season. Off the back of the 1994 season, the German manufacturer went on to partner with Mclaren in a partnership that would provide nearly 20 years of success.
During its partnership with the British McLaren team, Mercedes-Benz would provide the power behind, 3 Drivers Titles and 1 Constructors Championship for the team and race drivers, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
Alongside it’s McLaren years it also supplied engines to the Brawn GP team and achieved both Championship crowns with them in 2009, before going on to buy the team and becoming the Mercedes manufacturer team that exists today whilst also becoming an engine supplier to fellow F1 teams, Williams and Force India.
During the time between 1994 and today, Formula 1’s regulations changed from V10 engines, to V8’s before settling on the current V6 Turbo Hybrid engines, technologies which have all seen some carry over into road car production. Whether that be through the McLaren Mercedes SLR or the upcoming Mercedes AMG ONE, Formula One philosophy and tech has featured prominently in these machines inception.
Formula One has certainly been a successful venture for the German manufacturer, whether Mercedes can carry on dominating Formula One and lift yet and other Drivers and Constructors double at the end of the 2020 season remain to be seen.