2011 Season Preview – Mercedes

Team Name : Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team

Location : Brackley, UK

Team Principal : Ross Brawn

Technical Director : Bob Bell

Drivers : Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg

Chassis : MGP W02

Engine : Mercedes-Benz

First Season : 1954

Races Entered : 31

Pole Positions : 8

Race wins : 9

Points scored in 2010 : 214

World Championships : 2

Mercedes-Benz is a legendary name and represents one of the most successful firms in motor racing history. The road car division is associated with some of the most desirable and powerful saloons and coupes in the world. The company’s involvement in motorsport goes back to more than a century – hardly surprising since they invented the car, period. It makes it all the more amazing that they have competed as a constructor in just three seasons of Formula 1 in all these years.

Two of those seasons were in the 1950s – 1954 and 1955 to be exact – where the team steamrollered the opposition and comfortably won the championships on debut. The third of those seasons was last year, where Mercedes GP made a comeback after 55 years. Well that’s not entirely true. To be brutally honest, the F1 team that operates from Brackley in the UK is mostly the Tyrrell/BAR Honda team of the past and not a true Mercedes racing outfit. The squad had become Honda F1 and then Brawn GP before it morphed into its current avatar. Changes to the team notwithstanding, it is essentially the same group that David Richards and Honda built up over the last decade.

But for all intents and purposes, this is the Mercedes GP team so let us press on. At a time when most car manufacturers were leaving F1 or downsizing their involvement in the sport, the German legend bucked the trend and bought a massive 75.1% stake in the Brawn GP team. With lead driver and world champion Jenson Button jumping ship to McLaren, and Rubens Barrichello already poached by Williams, Mercedes needed two quick drivers to give them a successful their comeback season. In the end, they fielded a high profile driver line-up with the giga-talented Nico Rosberg joining the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, coming out of retirement at the age of 41.

The team started out as the reigning world champions, and with such a formidable driver pairing, Ross Brawn at the helm and the might of Mercedes-Benz behind them, expectations were naturally high. But as with every Formula 1 car, the seeds of MGP W01 were sown in the previous year, in this case 2009, when Brawn GP was walking a tightrope between developing the 2009 car, designing the challenger for 2010 and generally, surviving on threadbare resources.  Therefore it was always bound to be a compromise – and when the reborn Silver Arrow first turned a wheel, we all confirmed our suspicions. The biggest problem for Mercedes was Schumacher’s struggle in the cockpit – the German legend was at odds with the 2010 Bridgestones, as they prevented him from setting up the front end of the car as he wanted to.

In course of the 2010 season, Mercedes notched up several podiums and top five finishes, but they were a huge distance away from Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. The defending champions therefore had to endure a difficult and underwhelming season, finishing fourth overall. Nico Rosberg was one of the best drivers of the year, and he put his MGP W01 in places where it had no right to be. More importantly, he summarily outclassed the most successful F1 driver of all time. Mercedes ought to hang on to Rosberg, give him a winning car, and build the team’s future around him. No one doubts that Rosberg is up there with the best in his generation – probably even better – and given a competitive car, I have every confidence that he will be difficult to catch. And given Michael’s return to form in the latter half of the season, and the fact that this year’s championship will be more about thinking on the feet, cunning strategy and adapting to the conditions, write him off at your peril – he will be a formidable rival.

On the technical side, the highly regarded Bob Bell joins the team, taking a major workload off Brawn’s hands. This year’s car has been designed around Schumacher and Rosberg, so the team should be strong. Although initial testing form indicated that Mercedes was well off the pace, the final update package has produced a huge improvement, and the whole team is oozing with confidence before the start of the season. The best Team Principal in the pitlane, a phenomenal technical squad, two of the best drivers available, and a convincingly quick car – put all those together and you get a team capable of taking the fight to Red Bull and Ferrari this season. Every reason to believe that the Silver Arrows will return to winning ways this season.


One Response to “2011 Season Preview – Mercedes”

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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