The Silver Arrows works team started their third year, 2012, with a change of name to MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS but kept the proven driver pairing of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher for a third season, which was to be the longest ever in the history of Formula 1 with 20 races.
2012 was another historic year for Mercedes-Benz. At the end of March, the brand with the three-pointed star celebrated 111 years of success in motor racing. On March 25th 1901 at the Nice Racing Week, a Daimler racing car achieved the first victory for a ‘Mercedes’, which was named after one of the daughters of the importer, Emil Jellinek. After an exhausting six hours, 45 minutes and 48 seconds, Wilhelm Werner (mechanic to Baron Henri de Rothschild) won with a lead of 26 minutes and 10 seconds and an average speed of 58.1 km/h. By way of comparison, that would equate to a lead of almost six minutes in a modern grand prix lasting an hour and a half.
The 2012 Formula 1 season started with a tough first race for Michael and Nico, as they finished out of the points in Melbourne, just one week before the 111th anniversary. The first race after the jubilee was to prove much more successful, however, because at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Nico took the first pole position for the Mercedes-Benz works team since their return to Formula 1. Michael started the third race of the season next to him on the front row.
The following day, Nico achieved the first victory for a works Silver Arrow since the Italian Grand Prix in Monza on September 11th, 1955 – 20,671 days previously. Nico secured his first GP victory in his 111th Formula 1 race, 111 years (and three weeks) after the first Mercedes triumph at the Nice Racing Week. And, what is even more amazing, this victory was the first for a German driver in a Silver Arrow since Hermann Lang’s win at the Swiss Grand Prix in 1939.
Nico finished in the points again in the next two races in Bahrain and Spain and was a member of the podium party at his home race in Monaco where he came home in second place. Michael posted the fastest time of qualifying in Q3 in the Principality but had to start the race from grid position six because of a penalty incurred in the previous grand prix. He retired from the race with a technical problem.
However, his finest hour followed two races later at the Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia. Starting from grid position twelve, Michael fought his way up the field on the street circuit to a place on the podium, securing third place and his first podium since his comeback. Nico came sixth, producing a great result overall for the team.
Apart from Hungary, Michael was never out of the points in the races that followed until the end of the European season in Monza. He lined up for his 300th Formula 1 grand prix start in the Belgian Grand Prix, at his favourite track in Spa-Francorchamps, the one he likes to call his ‘living room’. After 308 races, 91 wins and seven world titles, Michael ended his Formula 1 career at the season finale in Brazil, where he came home in seventh place.
On 93 points and 49 respectively, Nico and Michael placed ninth and thirteenth in the drivers’ championship. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS finished the season in fifth position in the constructors’ standings on 142 points.