17 years with the three-pointed star: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes-Benz write a unique success story together in motor racing.
Lewis shakes his head in disbelief. "That's just crazy," he says, looking over the Silver Arrow from the 30s in front of him. "Really crazy," he says it again. Lewis is trying in vain to find the seat belt, crash protection features and speedo on the classic car. His first official appearance as a Silver Arrows works driver at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart early in 2013 was literally a journey into the past and also a little bit of a new beginning – both for him and his team.
The scene speaks for itself: The career of three-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton is connected to Mercedes-Benz in a very special way. Mercedes has supported the British driver since the early days of his career. "I've been racing with Mercedes since I was 13 and have actually never competed with another engine in Formula One," said Lewis. "The star is in my blood, and I will keep pushing to ensure that we can secure more successes together in the future."
Lewis has been at the wheel of a Mercedes-powered car for all of his 164 Grand Prix starts and, of course, for every one of his 43 Grand Prix wins as well. He continued the tradition of British Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix drivers like Sir Stirling Moss and Richard Seaman with his move to the Silver Arrows works team. As a member of the team, he often comes across legends from the Silver Arrows' glorious past.
And so it was once again this year on a cool morning towards the end of April. There were four legends waiting for Lewis in the bright sunshine on the main straight of the iconic Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit, a 1955 300 SLR '722', two all-conquering Silver Arrows – a W 196 R and a W 196 Stromlinie – plus the man who once tamed these beasts: Sir Stirling Moss. "Driving round the old banking in this incredible car with Sir Stirling right there below was just magical," said Lewis, remembering the event with enthusiasm. "I was shouting out to him: Stirling! This is amazing!"
Rapid rise & first world title
Hamilton has been a Mercedes-backed talent since his go-karting days. Indeed, Nico Rosberg was his team-mate in Team MBM.com even back then. Lewis secured his initial single-seater wins using a Mercedes-Benz engine in the Formula 3 Euro Series. On his way to winning the 2005 title in his second season, he took 15 wins from 20 races and failed to finish on the podium just three times. He joined F1 straightaway after a single season in GP2 during which he was crowned champion.
Lewis made his debut in the premier class in the 2007 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 22 – powered once again by Mercedes-Benz. He finished his first nine Formula 1 Grands Prix on the podium with McLaren-Mercedes and stood on the top spot of the podium for the first time in Canada in only his sixth F1 race. Lewis battled for the title until the last race and finished his debut season as World Championship runner-up. One year later, he went one step better when he took his first World Championship title with Mercedes engine power in the rear of his McLaren MP4-23. Even back then, he worked with Paddy Lowe, who is now Executive Director (Technical) at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS.
"Lewis is a fantastic driver, and I think we're seeing him now actually at the peak of his game," said Lowe. "He is better than ever, and it's very difficult to beat him. When I joined the team, we'd already worked together previously for several years at McLaren. In fact, I've been there for all of his Grand Prix wins up until today."
A move and success in the Silver Arrow
After four further years with McLaren, Lewis made a move to the Silver Arrows works team MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS for the 2013 season. "It was the start of a new chapter for me, a new adventure. And when I walked through the doors in Brackley, I was so excited to get down to work," said Lewis about joining the team. "I've never seen a group of people hungrier for success. I've worked with Mercedes-Benz for a very long time now and have learned one thing above all: Mercedes-Benz does not know how to lose."
Lewis quickly grew into his new team, securing his first victory in a works Silver Arrow at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2013. He started the new Formula One era, running Hybrid Power Units, one year later alongside Nico, driving the F1 W05 Hybrid. The two Silver Arrows drivers won 16 of 19 races, battling for the world title until the very last race. Lewis ultimately clinched the title with a win at the Yas Marina Circuit.
"We've had a great journey," said Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff at the season finale in Abu Dhabi after Lewis' title win. "Lewis winning his second World Championship makes him one of the greats, and the team bouncing back after 60 years and rewriting the history books, coming back with such a dominant season."
And so again in the 2015 season, Lewis sped from success to success in his Silver Arrow. By winning his third world title and his second in a row in Austin, he has marked the high-point in the long and successful relationship that has existed so far between himself and the three-pointed star – and it's not over yet!