Slow off the mark when they rejoined as a works team in 2010, behind the scenes the team were hard at work on the new hybrid power unit, which has dominated the sport and led the team to four title victories over the last four seasons at the hands of Lewis Hamilton in 2014, 2015 and 2017, and Nico Rosberg in 2016. Can they continue their dominant ways in 2018?
|First F1 Appearance||1954 French Grand Prix|
|Team Principal||Toto Wolff|
Mercedes’ history in motorsport dates back to the 1930s, when the team, largely funded by the Nazi regime, were nicknamed ‘the Silver Arrows’. In 1954, the Mercedes team entered the Formula One Championship for the first time, with Juan Manuel Fangio joining the team mid-season and winning four races along with the Drivers’ Championship. Fangio was joined by Stirling Moss for the 1955 season, with Fangio once again taking the spoils. The racing season was marred in 1955 by the Le Mans disaster, which killed Mercedes sportscar driver Pierre Levegh and 80 spectators. Mercedes withdrew from motorsport as a result, and would not return to Formula One as a works team for over fifty years. Mercedes did, however, supply engines to teams from 1994, powering McLaren during a successful twenty year partnership, which saw the team win three Drivers’ Titles and the 1998 Constructors’ Championship.
The Brackley based team itself has seen many guises over the years, from its Tyrell beginnings in 1970, to BAR in 1999 and to Honda in 2006. When Honda chose to quit the sport at the end of 2008, Ross Brawn bought the team and named it Brawn GP. Powered by Mercedes engines, the team rocketed to championship victory in its first and only year. Mercedes bought a minority share in the team at the end of 2009, and the Brawn team became a Mercedes works team, making headlines by bringing Michael Schumacher out of retirement as their star driver.
Mercedes were unable to recreate Brawn GP’s success on their return to the sport, finishing fourth in the 2010 championship. In 2011, they were once again fourth, with Schumacher’s fourth place in Canada a season highlight. In 2012, the team returned to the top of the podium for the first time since 1955 as Nico Rosberg took pole and the win at the Chinese Grand Prix. That was to be the team’s best result of the year, though Schumacher scored his final F1 podium at the European round, and would have taken pole at Monaco if not for a five-place grid penalty from the previous race. Lewis Hamilton joined the team for the 2013 season. Rosberg took two wins over the course of the year, while Hamilton took his first Mercedes win in Hungary. They finished runners-up overall to Red Bull, who were untouchable in the second half of the season.
Come 2014, it was Mercedes who were the untouchable team, dominating the season with eighteen poles and sixteen wins, thanks to their brilliant V6 hybrid engine. The battle for the Drivers’ Championship was firmly between Hamilton and Rosberg, with Hamilton finally coming out on top at the last round of the season. The same number of wins and poles followed in 2015, and it was Hamilton who had an easier ride to championship victory.
In 2016, the tension between the driver pairing reached fever pitch, as a spate of reliability issues put Hamilton on the back foot. Rosberg won the first four races of the season, before the duo took each other out at the Spanish Grand Prix. The two collided again on the last lap in Austria, and Hamilton took the lead in the championship ahead of the summer break. The first three races of the second half of the season, though, were dominated Rosberg, and an engine blow-out in Malaysia put Hamilton once again on the back foot. Rosberg wrapped up the title in Abu Dhabi, despite Hamilton’s best attempts to stop him. Rosberg then announced his retirement from the sport just a week after clinching the title.
It was a fourth straight Constructors’ Championship win for Mercedes in 2017, but they were challenged more regularly than they had been over their previous three dominant seasons, scoring almost 100 less points in total over the year. The team dynamic changed in 2017 as Nico Rosberg left and Valtteri Bottas arrived, seemingly making for a more harmonious working environment for their champion driver, Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes’ reliability in 2017 was almost bulletproof, with both cars finishing in the points at every race bar the Spanish Grand Prix where Bottas’ engine expired.
Four years is a long time for a championship streak to last, and, based on historical data, and with Ferrari and Red Bull edging ever close over the last season, Mercedes will undoubtedly come under increasing pressure this season. Keeping both their drivers happy, and keeping Bottas on his A-game throughout the year will be pivotal to further championship success in 2018.
MERCEDES’ RECENT F1 HISTORY
|2010||4th (214 points)||0||0||Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg|
|2011||4th (165 points)||0||0||Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg|
|2012||5th (142 points)||1||0||Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg|
|2013||2nd (360 points)||3||8||Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg|
|2014||1st (701 points)||16||18||Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg|
|2015||1st (703 points)||16||18||Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg|
|2016||1st (765 points)||19||20||Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg|
|2017||1st (668 points)||12||15||Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas|
|2018||Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas|