60 years ago, Mercedes-Benz marked its debut in the Formula One World Championship in style with the debut of the W 196 R. The second European race of the season – the 1954 French Grand Prix – saw the new generation of Silver Arrows take the start for the first time. 1951 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio lined up alongside Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann: the combination of both car and drivers proving an instant success.
Although Herrmann suffered an early retirement – having just set the then fastest lap of the race – Fangio and Kling dominated to claim an emphatic one-two finish: separated by just 0.1 seconds at the flag and with an advantage of a whole lap to the rest of the field.
Fast forward to the present day and the latest incarnation of the Silver Arrows – the F1 W05 – celebrates this landmark anniversary with a landmark result: Nico Rosberg taking the 100th Formula One victory for Mercedes-Benz power at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
In doing so, Nico took his Formula One victory tally to four (one short of father Keke); placing him equal seventh on the list of twelve drivers to have been propelled to first place by the three-pointed star. Of this group, four went on to claim World Championship glory with Mercedes-Benz power; Juan-Manuel Fangio, Mika Häkkinen, Jenson Button and of course current team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Much has changed over that 60 year period but the principles of ground-breaking engineering which lay at the heart of both projects remain.
The eight cylinder 2,496 cc in-line configuration engine deployed in the W 196 R made use of direct injection technology: successfully introduced to the track by Mercedes-Benz just three years earlier at the 1952 Mille Miglia. The F1 W05 employs a 1.6 litre, turbocharged V6 configuration with integrated Hybrid Energy Recovery Systems: the latter concept taking its first Formula One victory, in the form of a Mercedes-Benz KERS engine package, at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ever since the founding days of Mercedes-Benz, technology and innovation have been at its core. In marking the 100th Formula One victory for the marque’s engine technology, it is these principles that we celebrate today.