For Michael and Nico, the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring this weekend represents the second home race in succession for the team.
In preparation for the event, they made a special journey along the legendary Nordschleife. First, Michael chauffeured his team-mate in a Mercedes SLS AMG around the complete North Loop, then they both covered a section of the route in separate W 196 Formula One racing cars. Michael took the wheel of a W 196 ‘Stromlinie’ (streamlined model) while Nico drove a W 196 with open wheels.
“At the wheel of the W 196, I was driving a piece of motor racing history,” said Michael, who also spoke in glowing terms of the engineering that had gone into this particular Silver Arrow. “What better way could there be to motivate ourselves for our second home race in a fortnight than to go for a drive in a proven winner?”
Michael believes that the achievements of the drivers who had to contend with circuits such as the North Loop cannot be overestimated: “Hats off to these guys for what they accomplished with the resources they had available at the time.”
Nico also described his journey in the open-wheel W 196 as a fantastic experience: “From a modern perspective, the upright sitting position feels very strange, but the drive itself was great. It must have been tremendous fun driving these cars back in the Fifties. Compared with our modern safety standards, though, it was much more dangerous then, racing on tracks like the Nordschleife.”
The W 196 was the first Formula One Silver Arrow. Statistics for the car in the 1954 and 1955 seasons: 17 podiums, 9 wins, 9 fastest laps, 8 pole positions and two world titles, both for Juan Manuel Fangio.
In addition to the streamlined version, there was also a single-seater with open wheels from the 1954 Nürburgring race onwards. The car was powered by an eight-cylinder inline engine generating 257 horsepower (1954) and 280 horsepower (1955). It reached a top speed of 280 290 kilometres per hour (175 - 180mph).