Mercedes GP[3]  

Official Name: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Nation: Germany
Founded: 1906
Team Principal: Ross Brawn
Drivers: Michael Schumacher (#7); Nico Rosberg (#8); Sam Bird (reserve)

First GP: 1954 French Grand Prix
Last GP: 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix

Entries: 50 Grands Prix: 50 Non-starts: 1
Wins: 9 Podiums: 20 Pole Positions: 8
Fastest Laps: 9 Points: 379 Retirements: 25

1954 Daimler-Benz, Team, 6 Grands Prix, 4 wins, 7 podiums, 4 pole positions, Drives’ World Champion
1955 Daimler-Benz, 6 Grands Prix, 5 wins, 10 podiums, 4 pole positions, Drivers’ World Champion
2010 Mercedes GP W01, 19 Grands Prix, 3 podiums, 214 points, 4th overall
2011 Mercedes GP W02, 19 Grands Prix, 165 points, 4th overall


Mercedes’ Track Record

While better known for its contribution to Grand Prix circles as an engine builder, Mercedes-Benz has also played a significant (albeit brief) part as a Formula 1 constructor.

Predating the modern-era championship, Mercedes was a competitor in the very first Grand Prix in 1906, before its major onslaught in the early 1930s during the rise of Nazi Germany. Hitler had wanted to use motorsport to prove how superior German engineering was, and he forced his transport ministry to pour significant investment into Mercedes’ Grand Prix team, along with the Auto Union group.

Mercedes, with the likes of Rudolph Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Luigi Fagioli, quickly came to dominate the scene until the onset of World War II.

The carmaker did not return to Grand Prix racing until 1954, when it hit the grid with its technically-advanced W196 challenger, which had interchangeable open-wheeler and streamlined body kits. With it, Juan Manuel Fangio swept to the 1954 title with four wins.

It was a case of more of the same in 1955 for Fangio, who claimed his third championship title with new team-mate Stirling Moss often following in his wheeltracks.

But the marque’s F1 involvement came to an end after the Le Mans tragedy struck when Pierre Levegh lost control of his Mercedes and crashed into the crowd, killing himself and 80 spectators.

After returning to F1 as an engine supplier – firstly with Sauber, and later McLaren – in the 1990s, the Mercedes board finally gave the green light to returning to F1 as a bona fide constructor, launching its W01 challenger and convincing Michael Schumacher to come out of retirement for a three-year stint.

The team was borne out of the former championship-winning Brawn GP outfit, but in its two seasons to-date. it has finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on both occasions and claimed three podium finishes, all earned by Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes’ 2012 Prospects

Undoubtedly, the pressure is on Mercedes to deliver better results in 2012, and the team has been vocal about wanting to improve on its results in its third season back in the sport as a constructor.

While last year’s car was certainly an adventurous design, the W02 had several noticeable shortcomings. The team made a poor design decision to opt with a shorter-wheelbase model, and this led to higher tyre wear than its rivals at almost every round in the 2011 championship season.

The team quickly realised that it would require too much effort to develop the car into a frontrunner, and so it threw its resources at securing more design staff and technical managers to help shore up its 2012 prospects.

In came former technical directors from rival teams, including Aldo Costa (Ferrari), Bob Bell (Renault) and Geoff Willis (Williams/Honda/HRT) – they opted to delay launching the W03 challenger to give it more development time at the expense of pre-season track time.

The car has looked solid in testing, without being spectacular, and the team is again understating its hopes of challenging for wins, and writing off any hope of a championship tilt.

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