For 2010, Daimler AG revived a tradition that had ended with the close of the 1955 season and fielded a Formula 1 works team. The new outfit, Team Mercedes Grand Prix, was born out of the takeover of the British racing team Brawn GP. After concluding a long-term sponsorship deal with the Malaysian oil and gas company PETRONAS in late 2009, the new partners agreed on the team name Mercedes Grand Prix Petronas, or MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for short.
The signing of Michael Schumacher as a Mercedes-Benz driver for the new works team caused a sensation and the seven-time Formula 1 world champion was to race one of the two Silver Arrows for three years altogether, starting in 2010. Both for Michael and Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, the new 2010 season meant that the circle had been closed, since Michael had competed in Group C and in the DTM during 1990 and 1991 as a Mercedes-Benz junior and had then moved up into Formula 1 with Mercedes-Benz backing, lining up with Jordan on August 25th 1991 at Spa-Francorchamps.
At MERCEDES GP PETRONAS, Michael took on the mantle of the last Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 works drivers, including five-time world champion Fangio, Karl Kling, Stirling Moss and Piero Taruffi. Plus, Michael also began working again under team boss Ross Brawn, with whom he had won his seven world driver’s titles at Benetton and Ferrari.
The record-breaking world champion had ended his career at the close of the 2006 season in order to spend more time with his family, but, with renewed vigour and his usual élan, Michael threw himself into the second part of his Formula 1 career in early 2010. During his break from F1 – end of 2006 to 2009 – he had maintained his fitness levels with occasional test drives and motorcycle racing. In view of the ban on test driving actual Formula 1 cars, Michael did some work out on track during early 2010, including taking the wheel of a GP2 racing car, in order to prepare for his motor racing comeback.
His team-mate was Nico Rosberg, who had made his Formula 1 debut at Williams in 2006, the year of Schumacher’s departure. Nico was now also embarking on a new challenge with the Silver Arrows works team. Success in Formula BMW, Formula 3 Euro Series and GP2 had enabled the son of ex-Formula 1 champion Keke Rosberg to work his way up into the highest echelon of motor racing where he had already posted the fastest lap time in his first race.
The modern era of the Silver Arrows began on January 25th 2010 with the presentation to the public of the new works team in Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Museum. The MGP W01 Silver Arrow’s first outing took place shortly afterwards with winter testing in Valencia. The racing car was the sixth in a line of thoroughbred works Silver Arrows and the first since the 50s. Its direct predecessor, the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R, raced in the premier class in the years 1954 and 1955, securing two world titles with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel.
The first race of the new Silver Arrow era took place at the season-opener in Bahrain on March 14th 2010. Nico and Michael qualified for the race in the top eight and finished behind one another in fifth and sixth place respectively. Again in the second race of the season in Melbourne, Australia, both Silver Arrow drivers finished in the points with a P5 and a P10.
Nico achieved the first podium of the new era in only the third race of the season in Malaysia, the home race for title sponsors PETRONAS. Two more podiums followed at the next grand prix in China and at the team’s home race in the UK half-way through the season with Nico at the wheel each time.
Both MERCEDES GP PETRONAS drivers secured points in the first four races of the season. At the fifth race in Spain, Michael took the chequered flag in fourth place, just missing his first podium in a Formula 1 Silver Arrow by a whisker. Michael posted the same result two races later in Turkey, where he again finished fourth just ahead of Nico, and also finished fourth at the Korean Grand Prix just before the end of the season.
In 18 of the 19 races that year, at least one Silver Arrow driver came home in the Top Ten, and only at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest did neither of the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS drivers secure any championship points. Between them, Nico and Michael achieved three podiums and 214 championship points with the MGP W01 during the Mercedes-Benz works team’s comeback season. The team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship. Nico ended the season in 7th place in the driver standings, whilst Michael placed ninth overall.