By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes is also ready for round five of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. The performance of the Silver Arrows team has been a concern as the car did not perform well during the Bahrain Grand Prix, but a new upgrade package should improve the race pace of the car.
Ross Brawn: We’re not there yet but we are making progress
Team Principal Ross Brawn is aware of the lack of pace of the Silver Arrows team, and has pinned his hopes on a new upgrade package that will be introduced in Spain this weekend. “We have focused our efforts in two key areas; finalising our upgrade package for Spain and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain. We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation,” Brawn said.
There is still a lot of work to do, and Brawn further commented, “We’re not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts.” About the Barcelona circuit the Briton said, “Overtaking is more difficult there than at some of the early season tracks and, of course, every team will be bringing new developments so the weekend should provide an interesting challenge.”
Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Lewis Hamilton: We know the areas that we need to improve
Lewis Hamilton, who switched from McLaren to Mercedes, commented ahead of this weekend’s race, “We’ve been boosted by the results that we’ve had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement.”
He too, knows there is still a lot of work to do, “I’m feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve — so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.” And he added, “Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”
Nico Rosberg took pole in Bahrain – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Nico Rosberg: I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend
Nico Rosberg is looking forward to the race and commented, “We know that the car went very well at the Circuit de Catalunya in pre-season testing so I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend. We will have to wait and see how our pace compares however.”
The race-pace of the Mercedes is the main concern according to Rosberg, “Everyone has been working hard to make progress on our race day performance. It will be an interesting weekend and once we see how everyone performs in Barcelona, it should give a good idea of how the rest of the season will look.”
Mercedes is fourth is in the Constructors’ Championship with 64 points, while Hamilton and Rosberg are third and ninth in the Drivers’ Championship.
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By Berthold Bouman
Mixed feelings for Mercedes after three races; last weekend another podium finish for Lewis Hamilton, but yet another retirement for Nico Rosberg at Shanghai. Retiring is not an option for Mercedes, and the Silver Arrows team is aiming to improve the reliability of their 2013 contender, the W04.
Ross Brawn: We must improve the reliability
Team Principal Ross Brawn is aware of the reliability problems, and said, “We have two main areas to focus on; we must improve the reliability and we have to lift our performance to find that extra couple of tenths to our fastest competitors. And of course, that’s a moving target to make the challenge even tougher.”
But, overall, he’s happy with the new car, “With three race weekends under our belts, Bahrain will be the final race of the season-opening quartet. With very different track conditions at each venue, this should give us a good understanding of the car that we have to work with for the rest of the season. The performances so far have been pleasing and perhaps even beyond our pre-season expectations.”
Asked about the team’s target for this weekend he replied, “A strong two car finish will be our target this weekend, and we want to see both Nico and Lewis in a position to score not only points but podiums regularly.”
Two retirements for Rosberg this season – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Nico Rosberg: The first three races haven’t quite worked out as we had hoped
“I’ll be really happy to get back in the car again on Friday after a tough weekend in Shanghai. The first three races haven’t quite worked out as we had hoped on my side but the positive is that we have a car that we can really work with,” Rosberg said ahead of the weekend.
The German is confident Mercedes is well-prepared, and said about the desert circuit, “It’s going to be very tough on the rear tyres and our biggest challenge will be to make the most out of the situation. We’re better prepared than we were last year and we have shown that the car is much stronger so I really hope that we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.”
Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Lewis Hamilton: The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge
Hamilton was pleased with last weekend’s result and commented, “With each race, I am becoming more settled in the team and more comfortable in my car, and we were very happy with the pole and podium finish.”
He is also eager to close the gap on his rivals and said, “There are some areas where we need to improve to close that gap to the fastest cars and we’re working hard to identify and develop those.”
He’s already looking forward to the race, and remarked about the circuit, “The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge, particularly for the tyres with overheating and also the sand on the track, but this helps to make it unique. The layout has a great combination of fast, slow and medium corners which make it tough for the drivers and the car, so it will be a true test for us.”
Mercedes is currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, eight points behind Lotus, and 38 points ahead of McLaren. Hamilton is fourth in the Drivers’ Championship with 40 points, while Rosberg, due to two retirements, is seventh with 12 points.
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By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes won their first Formula One race at the Shanghai International Circuit last year, this year the German team hopes to close the gap on their rivals, and more important, the Silver Arrows team must keep developing the car in order to battle at the front.
Toto Wolff: Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff thinks it is difficult to repeat last year’s success at the Shanghai track. “One year on from Nico’s win, a lot of people will be asking whether this is something our team can repeat in 2013. But like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track next weekend,” said the Austrian.
Mercedes has planned more new parts for China and Wolff said, “We have made a solid start to the season in the first two races with Nico and Lewis both performing at a very high and equal level. The development race will be critical this season so we have more new parts planned for China. Our aim has to be to improve on our good start to the season and continue scoring good points in both championships.”
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes Benz
Lewis Hamilton: We’ve had a better start than we expected
Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to race again after the three-week break. “My first two races with my new team have been a great experience and everyone has made me feel so welcome. We’ve had a better start than we expected and to have finished in fifth and third places so far is really positive,” Said the 2008 World Champion.
He’s confident his team can keep up the pace of development, “I know there is much more to come so we will keep working hard and pushing the development of the car. I’ll be at the factory this weekend and look forward to hearing about the work that’s gone on in the last couple of weeks and the upgrades that we will take to China.”
Rosberg won the Chinese GP last year – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Nico Rosberg: I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal
Of course Nico Rosberg has good memories of the Shanghai circuit, as he scored his maiden win during last year’s Chinese Grand Prix. “I travel to China this week with very good memories from winning my first Formula One race in Shanghai last year, and having led the race there for the past three years. I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal and I have a positive feeling going there with the car that we have at the moment.”
And he added, “We’ve had a strong start to the season and I’m confident that we can keep pushing and hopefully score some good results in China and Bahrain.”
Ross Brawn: We’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close
Team Principal Ross Brawn also thinks that his team has made a good start this season, but there is still work to do. “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development,” said Brawn
He’s also looking forward to test the new parts the team has developed for Shanghai, “A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”
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By Berthold Bouman
The Australian Grand Prix was certainly not a complete success for Mercedes, as Nico Rosberg had to give up his race with technical problems, while Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth place at Melbourne, the Mercedes team is therefore looking forward to round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Ross Brawn: We all hope to put on a good show
Team Principal Ross Brawn thinks there is still much work to be done, he especially wants to be able to get better start positions for his drivers. “Our car performed well and seemed to be competitive in all of the conditions that the Melbourne weather gave us. However, we didn’t quite find the correct balance for the race which compromised our ability to maximise the starting positions of Lewis [Hamilton] and Nico [Rosberg]. With the second race in Malaysia following this weekend, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to put that right.”
Ross Brawn, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Lewis Hamilton: Hoping for positive weekend
Hamilton is looking forward to the race at Sepang, a race he has never won before. “Malaysia is a beautiful country with great weather and great fans who are always so supportive, I’m really looking forward to seeing them,” said the 2008 World Champion.
And he added, “Sepang is a fantastic circuit and one where I haven’t managed to win before. My favourite part of the track is probably turns five and six but it’s always an exciting challenge here with the heat and humidity.”
Asked about the progress Mercedes had made since winter testing, he commented, “I’m very proud of the work that the team have done so far and I know that the guys are pushing hard back in the UK to bring more performance to the car. I hope we can have a positive weekend here and build on the progress that we made in Melbourne and on what we learned from that race.”
Nico Rosberg: Conditions will be much hotter, rain would be welcome
“Sepang is one of my favourite tracks on the Formula One calendar. The layout has a little bit of everything with the slow and fast corners making a nice mix,” Rosberg said about the circuit.
He has fond memories of Malaysian circuit, “Sepang holds some great memories for me as I achieved my first podium for Mercedes here at the start of the 2010 season. The conditions this weekend will be much hotter than in Australia so it will be a good test to see how the cars perform in such a different environment and how we can adapt to that.”
The Mercedes is fast in the rain, and he would welcome a few rain showers this weekend, “It often rains heavily and from my experience with the performance of the car in the rain in Melbourne, wet conditions would certainly be welcomed by me!”
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By Berthold Bouman
For the Mercedes team the season will also kick off in Melbourne, as it will host the first race of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. Many changes at the Silver Arrows’ team, after Norbert Haug and Michael Schumacher left the team, the management team has been reinforced with Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn remains the Team Principal, and Lewis Hamilton will take over Schumacher’s place.
Team Principal Ross Brawn: Intense but exiting time for the team
“Our factories in Brackley and Brixworth have been buzzing with activity this week with both Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton] visiting to complete their final preparations on the simulator, and the team working to finish the cars, engines and pack the freight for the four flyaway races coming up,” Brawn said ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Asked about the progress the Silver Arrows team has made, he commented, “The first race is where we can really begin to assess our competitive position and how much of a step forward we have made with our new Silver Arrow. We had a successful pre-season testing programme and personally, I am pleased with the progress we have made, both with the car and in terms of how we operate as a team.”
But testing is testing and Brawn added, “Racing is a completely different situation and Melbourne will see much higher track temperatures and more varied conditions than we have experienced so far. We’re looking forward to the challenge and to the action starting in Melbourne next weekend.”
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Lewis Hamilton: The beginning of a new adventure
For Lewis Hamilton, everything will be different this season, a new team, a new car and a different way of working. But the 2008 World Champion is looking forward to the new challenge, in fact, he changed teams because he needed a new challenge. “It’s the start of a new season and the beginning of a new adventure for me with Mercedes. I can’t wait to get to Melbourne, get out on track and find out where we stand,” the Briton said.
He’s of course looking forward to race the Silver Arrows in Melbourne, “The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don’t know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don’t know what will happen in the race.”
“We had a good, reliable car during winter testing so that’s the positive we can take with us into the weekend but we know that in terms of performance, everything begins again from zero in Friday practice.”
Nico Rosberg: Tyre degradation biggest issue
Nico Rosberg welcomes his new team mate, and for him it will be a challenge too to race alongside Hamilton. He too has no idea how fast the Mercedes is, or how fast the competition is, “The first Grand Prix is where everyone finds out where they really are and we can judge how well we have done against our competition as the times in winter testing just don’t tell the full story.”
He’s a little worried about the new tyres, but confident his team will do well down under, “Tyre degradation will be the biggest issue for everyone so we need to look at that carefully and do a good job in managing it. I’m really looking forward to next weekend and getting the season underway.”
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By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn is adamant his new star driver Lewis Hamilton will help the team to move forwards. The first two test days at Jerez were a disaster for the Silver Arrows team, as testing was halted after they had an electrical problem on Tuesday which caused a fire in the rear section of the W04, while Hamilton crashed the next day due to a rear brake failure.
But Brawn remains confident Hamilton will help his team to make the Mercedes W04 a success, “I think we’ve made it very clear to Lewis that he’s part of the solution. He’s part of the solution to get us where we want to be and he knows that and understands it and I think he’s relishing it.”
“He gives us reference points and helps us understand what we need to focus on … I welcome that approach. It needs to be constructive and it needs to be positive criticism of the right sort and that’s always helpful for the team to drive it forward,” Brawn added.
Lewis Hamilton testing at Jerez – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Both Hamilton and his German team mate Nico Rosberg have worked hard during the last two days of pre-season testing in Jerez to provide the Mercedes engineers with the car data they so desperately need, Rosberg completed 148 laps on Thursday, and Hamilton completed 145 laps on Friday.
About the time they lost earlier this week Brawn commented, “We had some problems the first two days which were disappointing, but since then it’s been running well. We’ve been learning a lot about the car and about working with Lewis. It’s still very early in terms of understanding what he wants from a car perspective, and of course we’re at one circuit for one day. He’s clearly a person who enjoys being involved at all levels and that’s a great motivation for the team.”
Hamilton was pleased with the Mercedes W04, “We have some work to do but it doesn’t feel like a disaster. I feel like it’s a good platform, a good foundation to work on.”
And he said about his new team, “They are incredibly supportive. They just all want to do right by me. They were caring when I had the incident the other day and were concerned and they don’t really know me that well yet. So already I am building a bond with them and they are working flat-out which is good to see. There’s great motivation in the team.”
By Berthold Bouman
Ross Brawn: “The F1 W04 is a clear step forward in sophistication.”
Mercedes revealed its W04 today in the pit lane of the Spanish Circuito de Jerez, where the first pre-season test days will take place. Nico Rosberg was the lucky driver to have tried the new car in the morning, and Team Principal Ross Brawn seemed quite happy with the new Silver Arrows car.
“2013 marks the start of a second era for our Silver Arrows works team,” said the Briton. About the changes within the Mercedes team he commented, “The restructuring we undertook at the team over the past 18 months are now growing in maturity and this is reflected in the F1 W04, which is a clear step forward in design and detail sophistication over its predecessor. Many thousands of hours of work have been invested by our technical teams in Brackley and Brixworth to ensure that the new car delivers a step change in performance compared to last season.”
About his drivers he said, “We are also hugely proud to welcome Lewis to the team as a works Mercedes-Benz driver. With Lewis and Nico, we have what I believe to be the strongest driver line-up in Formula One and I know that a healthy level of competition between them both will help drive the team forward.”
Nico Rosberg: “We want to make this the best team in Formula One.”
Rosberg had already tested the car in the simulator this winter, and commented, “The car seems to be performing well in the virtual world but we have a very busy and intense programme ahead of us during testing to make sure we can deliver that performance on track.”
He too, was happy with the management changes, “The atmosphere in the team is very positive and the people are highly motivated to succeed. And, of course, I have a new team mate with Lewis. It’s his first time in the Silver Arrow and I look forward to working together and pushing each other hard, to make this the best team in Formula One.”
Lewis Hamilton: “I have never seen a team hungrier for success than this one.”
Throughout his career, Mercedes engines have powered Hamilton’s cars, and now he will finally make his debut as an official works Silver Arrows driver. “It’s a very special day for me to officially present our Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow to the world. There is no company with
a longer history in Grand Prix racing than Mercedes-Benz and it is an honour for me to tread in the footsteps of legends like Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss and Michael Schumacher,” he said.
He was impressed by the Mercedes team, “I’ve been at the factory
for a few days now, getting to know the guys, meeting my mechanics and engineers, learning myself into the team and I have never seen a group of people that is hungrier for success than this one.”
“This is a new start for me with the team in Brackley but I have worked with Mercedes-Benz for a very long time now, and I learned one thing most of all: Mercedes-Benz doesn’t know how to lose!”
But, he warned he needs time before he will be able to score his first victory for Mercedes, “We are playing a long game here but I know we will have success together and I’m excited to be a big part of making it happen.”
Toto Wolff: “The only thing that counts in Formula One is lap time.”
Toto Wolff, who replaces Norbert Haug as Executive Director of Mercedes AMG Petronas, said about the new car, “The first laps for a new car are always filled with emotion and today was no exception. It is even more meaningful when the car is a Silver Arrow: Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of racing success and this is something we are proud to represent and determined to live up to.”
Although he joined the team just two weeks ago, Wolff has already been impressed by the staff of the Mercedes team, “The people are highly motivated, open-minded and determined to succeed. Our drivers are hungry for success, too, and it will certainly be fascinating this season to see how Nico and Lewis perform together. Ultimately, though, Formula One is very straightforward and the only thing that counts is lap time.”
Pre-season testing will officially start tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday Rosberg will be behind the wheel of the W04, and Wednesday and Friday Hamilton will be driving the car.
By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes became the sixth team to reveal their 2013 contender, the Mercedes W04. The new car was presented during a simple ceremony at the Circuito de Jerez, Spain, where pre-season testing will commence tomorrow.
Of course also present were both drivers Nico Rosberg and a freshly recruited Lewis Hamilton, who signed a three-year deal with the Silver Arrows team. Also new to the team is Toto Wolff, who has been hired to strengthen the management team of the German-owned outfit, while Ross Brawn is still Team Principal.
Mercedes designed a car without a stepped nose, and the W04 is now a true Silver Arrow again with a smooth and slender nose section. Again, not many details were visible with the naked eye, most attention went to Mercedes’ new sponsor Blackberry — as both drivers posed willingly taking a snap-shot of the new car with their Blackberry.
All Photos: Mercedes-Benz
Rosberg, who already had tried the new car this morning, said, “It all went to plan, I very much felt at home [in the car] and that’s important. So, it’s good and this afternoon it’s going to be Lewis, he’s going to give it a go. Tomorrow is our first day of proper testing and I’m really looking forward to that.”
“A quite exciting day for us,” said Hamilton, adding, “the launch of a new car, and to be team mates with Nico; we were just saying how crazy it is because we used to be team mates back in 2000 when we were go-karting, so it’s a dream for me to be back here as his team mate.”
About his new car he commented, “It looks beautiful. It’s a lovely car, I’m just excited to get in it. I’m just really excited to get in and see what it feels like.”
By Berthold Bouman
Ross Brawn has dismissed rumours that his position as Team Principal of the Mercedes Formula One team could be in doubt, and today confirmed he’s still in charge of the famous German Silver Arrows team. Mercedes has recently hired Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda to reinforce the management team, but there are no plans to replace Brawn.
“I am the team principal and I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters,” Brawn said today. “Toto is coming in and that’s a whole other side of the business that I don’t want to get involved in. I don’t want to get involved in, on a day-to-day basis, the commercial activities and I don’t want to get involved with the support we need to give Daimler on a day-to-day basis.”
And the Briton added, “There are a lot of things that Toto will be doing that are complimentary to what I’m doing in terms of running the team, but you have to have one reference. Everybody knows that the only way a racing team would work is to have one reference, and I’m that reference.”
Brawn, who previously has worked for Benetton and Ferrari and helped Michael Schumacher winning the Formula One crown seven times, said Mercedes wants ‘a long-time commitment’, and that is exactly why he stays as Team Principal. Apparently, Mercedes is trying to lure McLaren’s Technical Director Paddy Lowe to the team to succeed Brawn when his time has come.
Ross Brawn has no intention to leave the Mercedes team
“It’s like my succession plan at Ferrari. When I decided I was going to stop at Ferrari, we built a succession plan and I am part of that, I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation. I’m planning on being here for a very long time.”
Actually, Brawn isn’t really happy with all the media attention, “I think it’s a bit disappointing that it’s got into the media, because that’s disturbing for the team. I want our guys focused completely on doing the best job they can for this coming season.”
And he added, “It’s a really exciting time here and Lewis [Hamilton] is now spending some time here at the factory and there’s a huge buzz about the place for the coming season. That’s what we want to maintain and unfortunately those things are in the nature of the business, but they are distractions for people and I have to do the best that I can to make sure people don’t get distracted!”
By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes today announced Toto Wolff will join the Mercedes Formula One team, and together with Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda he will be guiding the team to more success. The Austrian entrepreneur will acquire ‘a significant minority interest’ in the German team, according to a Mercedes statement.
Mercedes announced triple World Champion Lauda will also acquire a stake in the German Silver Arrows team. Wolff’s arrival is part of the reorganisation of the Mercedes F1’s management team. Wolff will become executive director of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd, and will replace Norbert Haug, who left at the end of 2012 as he was held responsible for the lack lustrous past three seasons.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG said in a statement, “As an entrepreneur, investor and motorsport manager, Toto Wolff has proven that this sport runs in his blood; at the same time, he is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business. With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula One team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a long-standing enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand.”
Toto Wolff joins new Mercedes F1 management team – Photo: Williams F1
“Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era.”
Wolff, who will retain his shares in the Williams Formula One team, commented about this new challenge, “Mercedes is one of the most important participants in motorsport worldwide. I am not only a big fan, but also a longstanding friend and enthusiast of the brand. I am looking forward to the challenge and, along with preparing for a successful racing season, also want to focus on the targeted promotion of new talent.”
“I am leaving Williams on good terms and I will miss the team and friends I have made there. I’d also like to wish Frank and the whole of Williams the best of luck for the future”, Wolff added.
By Berthold Bouman
Michael Schumacher is another driver who will say farewell to his team as he will retire from the sport for the second time after the last race of the season at Interlagos, but this time his farewell will be for good. The German seven-times World Champion reckons his second retirement will this time not be as emotional as it was in 2006.
“My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the championship and everything was much more intense. This time round, I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savour it too,” said Schumacher.
About his three years with Mercedes he said, “I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world, and I wish to particularly thank them for that. Of course, I would be happiest if I could say goodbye with a strong race, and I am sure we will be doing everything we can to make it happen.”
Interlagos is one of his favourite circuits and he is actually looking forward to the last race of his Formula One career, “Interlagos is the right place to round off my career because so much of the fascination of Formula One is rooted there. I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans, and it’s simply a great circuit which has seen many memorable events and always produces spectacular races as the unique layout guarantees plenty of action.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn expects it will be an emotional weekend for his Mercedes team, “With the last race of the season in Brazil also bringing Michael’s second and final retirement from Formula One, it will be an emotional weekend for everyone in the team. We have both greatly enjoyed and benefited from working with Michael over the past three years, and I would like to pay tribute to his enduring commitment, passion and team spirit.”
Of course, Brawn knows Schumacher like no other and has worked with him at Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes, and witnessed the German win an incredible seven World Championships, and he said, “Having worked with Michael for the majority of the 21 seasons of his career, I feel that he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Formula One driver of all time, and we wish him the very best with his future plans.”
Mercedes Motorsport Director Norbert Haug agreed with Brawn and said, “This weekend will also mark the final Formula One race of Michael Schumacher’s career and we must thank him both for his committed contribution to the building-up process of our team and also his performances on track.” And he added, “Michael isn’t just the most successful racing driver in the world but also the best known; his ability and character are admired around the globe.”
And indeed, Schumacher still has a huge fan base, and although some wouldn’t classify him as ‘the greatest’ Formula One driver ever, the now 43-year old driver won seven Drivers’ Championships and 91 races, scored 68 pole positions, 155 podium places and after the Brazilian Grand Prix will have participated in 308 Grands Prix.
Unfortunately his return to the sport with Mercedes turned out to be the toughest three years of his career, as Mercedes wasn’t fast enough to win races, his only highlight was a third place this season during the European Grand Prix at Valencia, and his team mate Nico Rosberg has outperformed him at many occasions, nevertheless, Schumacher truly enjoyed his return, but after three years it’s time to say goodbye.
Ciao Michael Schumacher!
By Berthold Bouman
The German Daimler company now fully owns the Mercedes Formula One team, as the German carmaker has bought the remaining 40 percent stake in the team, previously owned by the Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments company.
Aabar recently cut its ties with Daimler and sold their 3 percent stake in the Daimler company, and selling their stake in the Mercedes Formula One team was a logical step, Reuters reported. The sale is still subject to regulatory approval.
Mercedes have recently signed the new Concorde Agreement which means they have committed to Formula One until 2020. At the start of this season there were rumours the Daimler Board of Directors still had to decide about the future of the Mercedes team, as due to the economic recession the German company wasn’t sure they would be able to continue supporting the team.
The Mercedes team is led by Ross Brawn and Mercedes Motorsport Director Norbert Haug. Brawn bought the team from Honda at the end of 2008 when the Japanese carmaker decided to withdraw from the sport due to the economic recession and a chronic lack of results.
Brawn had to fire half of his staff, turned the team in Brawn GP and against all odds became a winning team. Mostly due to the nifty double diffuser, of course a design from the man himself, Brawn GP dominated the 2009 season and won the Constructors’ Championship, and driver Jenson Button won the Drivers’ Championship.
At the end of 2009, Brawn sold the team to Daimler and Aabar, and they recruited Nico Rosberg and seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher, the latter will retire after the Brazilian Grand Prix next weekend.
Last month Lewis Hamilton signed a three-year contract with the Mercedes team, which was already a sign the Mercedes Formula One team’s future had been secured. Mercedes also supplies engines to the McLaren and Force India Formula One teams.
By Berthold Bouman
As a car manufacturer, Mercedes is also looking forward to the United States Grand Prix this weekend. “It is five years since we last visited the United States and there is a great sense of anticipation in Formula One to be returning to a custom-built, state-of-the-art venue at the Circuit of the Americas,” Mercedes Motorsport Director Norbert Haug said.
Haug thinks the new circuit provides plenty of new challenges for the teams, “The circuit will provide a real test for the cars and drivers: it’s not a bland venue but rather a demanding layout with significant elevation changes. It contains an extremely demanding first sector, with a challenging series of high-speed corners and, throughout the lap, you can feel echoes of other great tracks around the world.”
Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn agreed with Haug, and added, “Visiting a new circuit for the first time is always a significant engineering challenge, and we have been working hard at the factory to prepare for the weekend.”
But Mercedes is well-prepared as Brawn explained, “The team have done over five race distances on the simulator to assess the layout, gradients and G forces. The track layout looks quite varied with a high-speed twisting section in the first sector, elevation changes with an uphill approach to the crest of Turn One, and a slower, more technical section at the end of the lap.”
For both drivers it will also be a challenge, and Michael Schumacher is looking forward to the penultimate Formula One race of his career, “My wife and I have been big fans of the USA, and also of Texas, for many years so I’m particularly looking forward to the race in Austin.”
But the seven-times World Champion also likes the challenges of a new circuit, and he hopes to do well, “From the pictures and layouts of the circuit that I have already seen, everything looks very good. I think Formula One will put on a good show at the Circuit of the Americas, and naturally I will be giving my best to be a part of that.”
Nico Rosberg has spent some time in the simulator at the factory last week and he said, “I know what to expect and, as a team, we are as well-prepared as we can be from our simulator work.” He is also upbeat ahead of the race, “The track looks cool with a great double S section to begin the lap and it looks like there should be some good opportunities for overtaking. We really want to end the season on a positive note so we’ll be aiming to score some points next weekend.”
Mercedes are currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 136 points, but Sauber are getting closer and closer and the difference is now only 12 points, Mercedes will have to score well during the last two races of the season, or they will lose their fifth place to Sauber.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes is hoping for a stronger result this weekend during round 18 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg retired from two of the last three races and scored no points at all, while Michael Schumacher, who will retire again at the end of the season, also didn’t score points during the past three races.
Team Principal Ross Brawn said, “Our team has had a challenging time during the season-ending flyaway races so far. However, we are continuing to work hard on improving our performance, while also taking the opportunity to look at developments which will be relevant next season. We would like to end the season on a positive note, and hope to have a stronger result this weekend.”
Schumacher was certainly not happy with last weekend’s race, “Admittedly, ‘fun’ is not exactly the right word to describe the race I had on Sunday in India. However, I hope that what we learned about our car across the weekend can be translated into something positive in Abu Dhabi.“
About the venue itself he was more positive and said, “Abu Dhabi is one of the races I look forward to travelling to. The facilities there are state of the art, very modern and very attractive. The timing of the race makes it even more appealing: it’s something quite special and uniquely fun to race from day into night.”
Rosberg agrees with compatriot, “The Abu Dhabi race is one of the highlights on the calendar and every year it seems to become better and better. I really enjoy driving the track, particularly with the unusual twilight conditions, and the setting around Yas Marina is very special.”
He thinks the tyre strategy will be important, “On the track, tyre work will again be crucial this weekend. We are working hard on it and our goals this weekend will be to score some points and to learn for next year.”
Mercedes Motorsport Director Norbert Haug is looking forward to yet another home Grand Prix, “This will be the fourth visit to Abu Dhabi which is, along with Great Britain, Germany and Malaysia, one of our home races and certainly a season highlight. The facilities in Abu Dhabi are exceptional and the spectacle of the day-night race is unique in the Formula One calendar.”
But he admitted scoring a good result won’t be easy, “Overtaking is difficult in spite of the long straights and many braking zones but the DRS zones significantly improved the situation last year. Overall, the level of competition behind the quickest teams has got ever closer throughout the season and a few tenths of a second in lap time can make a difference of many positions in both qualifying and the race.”
By Berthold Bouman
Lewis Hamilton, who will leave his current team and will drive for Mercedes next season, has shown a sudden interest in the details of his McLaren MP4-27, that is the claim of the UK Independent newspaper. According to the newspaper Hamilton has shown a renewed interest in the technical aspects of his McLaren, especially the exhaust system and the telemetry seem to be his favourites.
During the Friday FIA press conference at Suzuka, Hamilton tried to dodge questions about his move to Mercedes, and when again quizzed about his new employer he said, “I’m not really here to talk about that this weekend. I’m here to talk about trying to win this World Championship still.”
Sergio Perez wasn’t interested in talking about his new employer either, and said he was also concentrating on the six final races of the season. But when Hamilton was asked about Perez taking over his car next year, he couldn’t help himself saying, “Trust me, it will be a good car next year as well, I know.” And then he turned to Perez and jokingly said, “I know exactly what’s going on next year with your car!”
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh tried to play down the risk Hamilton could take McLaren’s secrets to Mercedes, “I think Lewis has been part of the team for a long time, I think he knows the people and what we’re trying to do, but I don’t think there’s any great secrets in that, so I don’t think it’s a concern.”
And he added, “I think if I was pursuing intellectual property from other teams, I’d probably go for engineers not drivers.” And Whitmarsh further commented, “But I think, again, Lewis is respectful of the team and what it’s doing, and I think he knows we’re going to do everything we can in the remaining six races to try and win, and try and win some championships. The best way to do that is to work together, be open and carry on as you ordinarily would.”
Most driver contracts have a clause that says drivers are not allowed to pass technical information when they leave their team to join another team, but Hamilton is of course at liberty to tell Mercedes what he has learned and has been taught at McLaren, and what he can still remember about his car.
But that is all theoretically of course, and meanwhile McLaren will certainly not give him more inside information about the 2013 McLaren, as he will not drive it in 2013. And last but not least, neither Hamilton, nor his boss-to-be, Ross Brawn, are fools; Hamilton will certainly not show up at the Mercedes headquarters in Brackley with a briefcase under his arm containing all McLaren’s ‘secrets’.
And that is why Hamilton said, “We’ve got six races ahead in a great team that I’ve had a great, an incredible journey with, and I’m working on trying to finish that on a high.”