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Schumacher and Rosberg echo Fangio and Moss at Mercedes
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Schumacher and Rosberg echo Fangio and Moss at Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jan 2010   |  1:10 pm GMT  |  79 comments

Mercedes Grand Prix is up and running, the third time in the company’s history that it has had its own team at the highest level of the sport.

Picture 24
At a ceremony today in Stuttgart the all German driver line up of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg was unveiled along with the distinctive colour scheme.

The legendary Silver Arrows were a powerful force in Grand Prix racing before the war and then dominated it when they returned in the mid 1950s. They won everything because their investment was huge and the technology was superior to the opposition and in Juan Manuel Fangio they had the best driver available, with Stirling Moss as his young understudy.

Fangio was 42 when he started with Mercedes in F1 and Moss was 25. The echoes are uncanny; going into this season Schumacher is 41 and Rosberg is 24.

Moss was happy to follow in the master’s wheel tracks in 1955, whereas Rosberg has his own agenda, having signed up before Schumacher’s name was connected to the team. The situation will need managing carefully. It is up to Ross Brawn and his team to ensure that things run smoothly and that their technology allows them to dominate the sport as their predecessors did, but it will not be easy. The Resource Restriction Agreement now controls F1 spending, so it is all about efficiency, rather than an arms race now.

The car revealed today was last year’s championship winning Brawn car repainted in Mercedes colours, showing the level that the team is coming in at and the expectations which inevitably follow. The new car will be called the W01 – in the same tradition as the great cars of the past like the W125 and the W196. The W stands simply for “Wagen”, meaning “car”.

What is striking and unusual about this event is that the sport now has another established front running team. Brawn, in its previous guises as Honda and BAR never established itself as a top team, but Mercedes’ intervention coupled with Brawn’s success puts this team on a level with Ferrari and McLaren. With Mercedes’ proud heritage in the sport it is a powerful combination.

Ross Brawn is the architect for all of this, having taken the plunge almost a year ago and saved the team after Honda pulled out. Mercedes have both rewarded him handsomely for his initiative and invested their trust in him. He no longer has the stress of having his name above the door and the responsibility of paying the bills each month, which is a big relief to him, but he has a lot of pressure to deliver, as he had at Ferrari. He was overjoyed by the way things have worked out,

“It is a great thing, working with Michael again is a very special treat and something I didn’t think would happen again, ” he said. “It’s so exciting and so motivational for me and the team to be involved. Nico is a very exciting prospect who will make a wonderful partner for Michael. Nico has been in a racing for a number of years but he will enjoy working with Michael and seeing how a seven-time champion operates.”

Schumacher’s return is an extraordinary development for the sport, “For sure for me it is very, very special, a dream come true to be able to drive the first silver arrow for more than 50 years. It is a great emotion and it is a great feeling that I am getting from the outside, so a big compliment to all fans that see it like this,” he said. “It gives me a greater feel and a greater push. We have a very exciting combination here. We have a world champion team in every sense of the word, and I cannot wait to get into the car for the first time in Valencia. I am convinced the team will be in a very good position to fight for the championships this season and I will definitely give it a go.”

The team is backed by Petronas, the Malaysian oil company in a deal worth €30 million per season. There has not been any mention yet of Nick Heidfeld as test and reserve driver, despite reports over the weekend that he had agreed a deal.

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79 Comments
  1. Charlotte says:

    Looks great – cant wait for the season to start.

  2. Jenson would have looked very out of place if he had stayed, with Rosberg and Heidfield on either side of him, overlooked by the German top brass.

  3. Jeff says:

    Wow. Did not know about how old Fangio was. It almost a mirror to MS/NR. Hopefully the car and drivers will live up to their competition. Would love to see a 3 or 4 way battle for the titles.

  4. Pierre says:

    James,
    How different do you think is the Mercedes “silver” from the McLaren one? Can’t really see it on the picture. Different color, different appearence? shinning difference? I think they agreed that McLaren could keep its 2009 scheme in the future, but how much will it be different from the Mercedes? Only the front of the nose (black for Mercedes and red for McLaren)?

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Closer to the traditional German racing colors then. Too bad Williams has the US colors, and McLaren won’t go BRG…

    1. john says:

      McLaren is chrome, like a tap i suppose

  5. jose says:

    would it be mclaren in orange. I heard dennis wanted it that way, but mercedes never alowed it.

    1. Jeremiah says:

      ORANGE PLUS SILVER would be the best.

  6. Pierre says:

    Interesting to see Schumacher still has his own “personal” cap when Rosberg has not!!

    1. jose says:

      no personal sponsor interested on him. Only senna and schumi. Both banks. I almost forgot, lauda with parmalat when he was at mclaren, and a few years after retirement. Any other personal sponsorship that i miss?

      1. Adrian says:

        Duracell on Barrichello last year… cos he just keeps on going!!

      2. Henry says:

        Jenson had Monster sponsorship from Silverstone ’09 onwards – on the top of his helmet and the side of his caps.

    2. Malcolm says:

      Nico’s hair is too important to ruin it with a hat. ;-)

  7. Paul young says:

    Agree about there now being another big team, but it will be so interesting to see if the new car has been kept under wraps because they have found something innovative. Even though Ross is denying it!

  8. lip_iceman says:

    Unfortunately the picture doesn’t show much… Its not clear whether the car is white or silver. The black edges on the nose remind me of the late 90′s McLarens.

    1. James Allen says:

      There will be more pics later

      1. lip_iceman says:

        I’ve been trawling the internet and for those who have not seen hi res pics of it yet:

        http://www.autosport.com/gallery/index.php/id/1929

        http://www.f1sa.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19749&Itemid=219

        The car is close-to-white silver with darker streaks most pronounced on the wings and winglets. There’s subtle teal blend in parts.

  9. Paul says:

    James, don’t you think it is a crying shame that Heidfeld may be 3rd driver at Mercedes? He might not be as young as Rosberg but he is a much better driver.

    Do we know why he is unlikely to go to Renault? Are they picking a driver (Petrov presumably) purely on money they can bring to the team?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not sure that he is a ‘much better driver’ than Rosberg. I have a feeling Petrov is headed for Renault, he has the right mix of talent and sponsorship. Heidfeld wants paying circa €4 million a year and the climate isn’t right for that

      1. jw1980 says:

        I agree with you there James. Heidfeld is worthy of a place in F1 but he’s not worth 4m euros. He’s had plenty of chances to give real eye catching performances and has never quite achieved that.
        With regards to Petrov he obviously brings big sponsorship but he has done enough in GP2 to warrant a go in F1. He’s achieved more than Kobayashi and look how he impressed last year.

      2. jose says:

        Petrov bringing 5 or more millions, and heidfels draining the team of 4 million. Mmmmm dificult decision.

      3. Yos says:

        if bringing money can gurantee a sit of an F1 car then we definately shouldn’t say that the best drivers in the world are in formula one.

  10. m77t says:

    so, the first true silver arrow in more than 50 years, some labelling it a ‘german superteam’, and it’s built in brackley…

    1. Jason Greer says:

      and the car in the pic’s is developed by Honda – again in Brackley ;)

  11. MartinWR says:

    The old firm of Schumi and Ross Brawn have to be front runners. Not only was the 2009 car one of the fastest non-KERS “wagens” on the track but it was handicapped because it had been designed for the Honda power unit and not the one it ended up with. That meant extra weight to accommodate the Merc motor and affected rear suspension travel, or so Ross said. The W01 won’t be compromised that way.

    I will be very surprised if McLaren are on the pace in the first part of the season, as they won’t be helped by the KERS system they put so much work into last year. As for the red lot, well they screwed up mightily in 2010 without Ross Brawn’s guidance and will have to change their ways greatly in order to be up there.

    So my guess is it’ll be between Brawn (oops Marc) and Red Bull, again.

    1. Adrian says:

      I agree about Ferrari…I think it might be 2011 before they’re challenging for either championship again. However I do believe that McLaren will be up there. I think they spent last year working out what was wrong with their car and will have corrected that this year.

    2. lip_iceman says:

      Agreed, Merc v Red Bull but I expect Macca to be very close and challenging for victories. As for Ferrari, Alberto Antonini (who writes for Autosprint) has claimed that the new car lacks aero efficiency again, and a B spec car is already in the works.

      But all speculation and rumour for now, we’ll get to see in Bahrain I guess!

    3. krad says:

      I see james isn’t the only one with a crystal ball

    4. jose says:

      i was thinking more between vettel and hamilton. But at this point, it’s imposible to know.

  12. Tom in Australia says:

    Nice looking car.

    Will be very interested to see what McLaren come up with.

  13. Olivier says:

    1. I hope they move the number to the top of the rear wing i/o the bottom. You can’t tell what number the car has from the picture.

    2. Oh, and why does the number have to be red? A BIG black 3 and 4 would look astonishing on silver!

    3. Also, why having “aabar” in red? And why having Bridgestone and aabar on the same wing? They seem to be floating with no graphical direction.

    4. What is the concept of the black blob with the mercedes logo and writing?

    5. I do love the details in mint.

  14. Paul Mc says:

    Not many 41 year olds in that kind of physical condition. The man must not eat at all! :)

    1. Elliot says:

      Ha – I bet he eats like a horse – 12,000 calories a day like Michael Phelps then burns them all off! ;D

  15. Mike Jordan says:

    I thought “Now that is a serious looking racing car!” There are lots of other pictures on line
    http://www.planet-f1.com/0,15897,,00.html
    Then I realized it’s a repainted ’09 which looked like a toy in it’s old livery in comparison. It’s amazing what a decent graphics package can do.

    1. Adrian says:

      I wonder whether we’ll get a Special Edition from Minichamps based on their BGP001 model?

    2. Jonathan says:

      I hope the Mercedes buyout has not simply meant spending money on a paint job!

      Personally I loved the Brawn livery and the way so many disliked it.

      It worked on so many levels – Brawn had far more important things to do than design a paint job. The car was instantly recognisable and spoken about. They kept their money and effort focused on the track – where the results proved they did the right thing. What more could a sponsor want? … and what better way to attract Mercedes.

      One could almost have called it a shining example of German efficiency! … all puns intended.

  16. Keilly says:

    Interesting how Schumacher describes how he will “drive the first silver arrow”. Only a small language nuance, but it definitely sounds like a ‘one up’ to me.

  17. Stu says:

    So when Merc win their first grand prix this season it will be the first time in F1 where only the German anthem is played on the podium ceremony.

    It might be time for them to start singing the first stanza again.

    Although my money is on Alonso or Vettel.

  18. FrankD says:

    I really like the livery – it is very minimal (especially the overalls), from other photos it has a pearlescent finish which will help it stand out from the other cars.

    Looking forward to the rest of the launches this week and then onto testing!

  19. Lewis Jones says:

    Seems like Nick could be on to a good thing if he signs as No 3 driver at Merc. In Scenario 1, Schumi might find that he no longer has the respect of the other drivers and might get fed up with being driven off the road by the young guns, who are going to be all gunning for him. In Scenario 2, Rosberg might get blown away by the old boy and decide that he is better off leaving ‘Schumi’s team’ at the end of the season (if not earlier?!?) if that is what it becomes after a couple of races. Either way, I think Nick easily has the potential to ‘do a Jenson’ and win consistently in the car if given the opportunity.

  20. Carlm21 says:

    The new Mercedes car looks great. The front wing does it for me. I’m predicting a battle between Massa and Schumacher for the 2010 title. Look forward to seeing the other launch dates.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not a new car, it’s last year’s Brawn repainted. New car is due for Valencia test

      1. MartinWR says:

        Purists might consider this a wee bit naughty. After all the car isn’t a Merc at all, but a Brawn.

      2. Carlm21 says:

        I did think the rest of the body work looked like last years car but I saw the front wing first and thought ‘Wow this looks good’

        Thanks for that James. Look forward to the launch.

      3. James Allen says:

        It is last year’s car. New one comes out next week at the test in Valencia

  21. SmA says:

    James,

    You’re awesome.

    All the F1 news websites publish the stories before you and I already knew the details of the launch, but I always visit your site because I know you’ll have some extra input. Comparing Schumacher and Rosberg to Fangio and Moss, genius.

    This is why I’ll always come to your site, not just for the news, but for your input.

    Thanks!!!

  22. Jason C says:

    The difference here between the Fangio / Moss comparison is that Rosberg has not quite shown the prodigious skill that Moss showed. Yet. Also, (not sure whether this was at the same stage in their relationship) Moss beat Fangio in sports cars.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. James Allen says:

      Moss hadn’t done that much by 1954. Rosberg has been around a few years now

      1. Henry Manney says:

        There is no comparison if one knows the story of
        all involved. Fangio was a gentleman, Schumacher is
        obviously a winner but hardly a gentleman. There ARE some of us who still care about that sort of thing, even if
        you and some of your readership don’t, James.

        And the idea that Rosberg could be compared to Moss
        is patently absurd. Rosberg wouldn’t even be where he
        is without his famous father. I’d like to see Rosberg
        drive the Mille Miglia course as Moss did in 1955 —
        Rosberg is simply not of the same caliber as Moss, which
        the next few years will prove in a way which removes all
        doubt.

      2. Lockster says:

        Henry, you obviously missed the point of the article.

        Nobody was making connections between the character of Fangio/Schumacher (although many people would be surprised that beneath the hard exterior, Schumacher is a very caring person who has donated many millions of dollars to charities, and I know that he made a particularly large donation for the victims of the boxing day tsunami in asia a few years ago).

        Anyway, James was making a point of referencing the “Master and Apprentice” scenario and the fact that there was a young “up-and-coming” charger paired with the most dominant and successful driver of that era. As far as the ages of the drivers is concerned, the similarities are rather strong.

        If Nico has the sense to use the next two years as a fantastic opportunity to learn from the greatest driver of all time, then it will make him a far better and more consistent driver, you only have to look at the immense improvement of Massa’s driving (think back to the way he drove when at Sauber Vs now) to see how much a driver can learn and improve by being open to learning from Schumacher.

      3. Casey says:

        Agreed. Sir HM III of R & T would as well I imagine.

      4. Martin Collyer says:

        James, sorry if this is a bit too pedantic but Fangio’s team mates in 1954 were Karl Kling and Hans Hermannn, Moss didn’t join Mercedes until 1955.

      5. James Allen says:

        You are right, but I didn’t say Moss joined Merc in 1954, only that they raced together. Thanks for the heads up – I’ve made it clearer now.

    2. Pierre says:

      Agree with James, Moss was the “future”, the young promising next great driver. At that time, Moss, Collins, Hawthorn and the others were also fully respectfull about Fangio, they were true knights about the “old master”. Just remember Collins stopping in the stands, jumping out of his Ferrari, giving it to his argentinean teammate, so giving up his own last Word Championship chances… just and only to allow Fangio win the ’56 title at the last race. If the rules would allow it who would do it today??
      Don’t think at all today’s drivers will look at Schumacher the same way…

  23. Pierre says:

    James,
    Just received the prize [mod] copy of your book this morning… thanks again! Looks great, will stop the one I started to read yours as soon as tonight!!

  24. Sam says:

    I would never underestimate Ross Brawn but I am worried that what if they go Renault way back in 2007.
    They had Pat Symond who was a technical genius too.

  25. Jon Wilde says:

    Isn’t the team a bit light on sponsors? Okay we all know about the aborted Henkel deal, but these are the World Champions! Is the economic climate really making it this tough to find new deals? if so what chance to the new teams have?

    Bringing Petronas on board at €30 million a year is hardly going to make the team self funding as was the orginal intention.

    And is Schumacher really planning to keep his red helmet? surely he’ll revert to his old less Ferrari focused design?

    James will you be attending the Mclaren launch on Friday?

    1. James Allen says:

      I will be there, yes.

      1. Flintelli says:

        What about Ferrari’s launch on Thursday James. Thats a must see!

    2. Pierre says:

      I think now he drives a german machine the “Red Baron” ace pilot will keep his red helmet…

  26. Bo Amato says:

    Please note that at the Merc launch today their car shown to the public had the number three on it. Many ask if Nico will get equal treatment.

    …,,,, Are you serious, not a chance.

    Rosberg is in a no win situation. Beat Schumacher, it will be because Shuey is over the hill. Lose to Michael and his career could wind up dead. It’s Mercedes or bust for Nico, it will be bust!!!

    Michael does not leave the comfort of Ferrari to join the man (Braun) that made him in Formula 1. He would not tarnish his carear for a bit of fun. Age has nothing to so with it in regards to driving. NASCAR races are full of old drivers and I get fed up of the media talking about G forces. It’s nothing light flying a jet in a presure suit.

    Either way poor young Rosberg may win a race or two. But his career will not end up with championships, he will become another Eddie Irvine, making up the numbers and a good supporting cast. However I must be honest, we all would have liked to be Eddie Irvine driving for Ferrari. So do we feel bad for Nico and co, absolutely nit!

    1. Olivier says:

      … well, it has a number “three” on the front and number “four” at the back :)

  27. Mike T says:

    James,

    how do you rate Nico’s chances? over the years sometimes we hear mixed reviews on Nicos performance how do you see him? i personally think he is good driver but unsure if he can put a whole season together like michael can.

    Thoughts?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it will be a head game for him. If he can just do his thing and get the most from the car he’ll do well. If he spends time and mental energy worrying about what Schmacher is doing he won’t. Also if the team gives Schumacher an advantage during a race, for tactical reasons, Nico is the kind of driver who will say something..

  28. Mr G says:

    Schumacher – Rosberg – Ross Brawn is a lethal combination for everybody else.
    If really MS is still at the top of his game and Mercedes has designed an half decent car, Mercedes will win the Championship by the time we will race in Monza.
    Rosberg will finish races in the top 4 everyrace with a good car and Schumacher, if still on top form, will battle for victories.
    Brawn has demonstrated in the last 10-15 years to be the man to beat in F1, it took Ferrari to another level, it took Honda to win races and both Championship.
    In my opinion if he thinks that Schumacher is good means that MS is still capable to deliver what we saw until few years ago.
    I think only LH will be able to battle with him if the McLaren will be good enough.
    These two drivers have the capability to gain few tenths out of the cars.
    Alonso I think he will suffer because Ferrari has lost his Capitano, Ross Brawn and, so far, Domenicali and the rest of the crew hasn’t been able to follow the Master

  29. Alistair says:

    Don’t forget who helped in Ross coming to Brackley, Nick Fry seems to always be forgotten. He should get some credit?

  30. Alistair says:

    What time zone is this site in? My comment is an hour ahead of me?? (uk)

  31. Harvey Yates says:

    I’m not sure that the comparison between Fangio and Schumacher is strictly legit. There were a lot of special circumstances around that time.

    I seem to remember that there had been a bit of a spat between Germany and just about everyone else. Britain was broke: indeed there was still rationing on certain items in 1954 (I think. If wrong I feel sure someone will tell me.) and limits on the use of steel.

    Good as Fangio undoubtedly was, he did not have to fight off competition from many young hopefuls. Not so much the quick and the dead as the quick were dead.

    Further, I always thought Moss was more of a sports car driver slumming it in F1. The current situation of F1 being unchallenged as the premier series was not always the case. I remember the BOAC 500 being billed as the biggest car race in Britain one year. Around 1954 they could not even run an F1 series and were forced to promote (in more way than one) F2.

    Moss’ exploits in sports cars were what made him the darling of those around me: mostly schoolboys fair enough but many adults who saw themselves as motor racing enthusiasts saw open-wheeled formula as much as a supply for sports cars as F1.

    F1 has changed in the ensuing years. In comparison it is a sprint. The g-forces are tremendous and I can’t help thinking that someone with a weakness in the neck might well have problems. You can generate more g-force in a sports care nowadays than Fangio ever had to put up with.

    The point you make, James, about the deference shown to Fangio by Moss being unlikely in the Schumacher/Rosberg situation is spot on. This will be war. 1954 will be a walk in the park in comparison.

    1. shortsighted says:

      Rosberg will be another Moss if he is out-qualified by his team mate in every F1 race. I hope he has the speed to prevent his from happening.

  32. Ahmed Al Mutawa says:

    Mercedes, Brown, Schumacher & Rosberg. Great team, it will work out for them & Schumacher will be the champion.

  33. Alberto Dietz says:

    Born on June 24th, 1911, Fangio was 43 by the time of the 1954 French GP on July 4th.

  34. Owen Rowley says:

    Hi James,

    I was interested to see Martin Whitmarsh in the crowd at the launch. Do you knoe if he attending as just another guest or as the new FOTA Chairman?

    BTW, I see the Mercedes marketing machine is already full swing….in Ferrari red no less!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_sXDFOLm_4

  35. Neil says:

    The car looks fantastic, can’t wait to see it on the track, it’s good that its different to the Mclaren

    looking forward to seeing all the other car launches this week

    Roll on racing in 2010!

  36. jack tors says:

    Painting the prior years’ car for a launch always feels like a joke to me. I understand the business considerations…and yes it is mere pennies for an F1 teams budget, but still seems like a waste of money.

  37. Richard says:

    I think it’s amusing that people suggest that it’s UK vs Germany , in terms of team Mclaren vs team Mercedes. Of course the Mercedes team is based in England and the engines are made there too, from what I gather.

  38. F1ART says:

    It’s starting to sound like the now defuncted World Cup of Motorsport aka A1GP,
    Team Germany (Mercedes) v Great Briton (McLaren) v Force India v U.S.G.P.E. v Team Jose! sorry meant Latin (Ferrari!)Hi Jose!

  39. Piket says:

    Rosberg is no Moss.

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