by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Yesterday and now: Nico Rosberg's maiden F1 win has historical ties, statistics say

Formula 1 and statistics always go beautifully together. After MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS broke the ice in the Chinese Grand Prix 2012, it was discovered that Nico's first victory is related to some historic Mercedes-Benz racing achievements. His successful 111th start in F1 comes 111 years after the first-ever win of a Mercedes racing car in 1901 at Nice Speed Weeks in France. In addition, today's performance for the Mercedes-Benz works team also comes almost 57 years after the 1955 Italian Grand Prix held on 11th September at Monza, Italy. We thought it would be nice for you to bring back to light those glorious days. Enjoy reading!

March 1901: "We have entered the Mercedes era!"

The first new 35 hp car was delivered to Jellinek on 22 December 1900. This new "Mercedes" developed by Wilhelm Maybach caused a sensation at the start of the century: it was the world's first modern car. One of its numerous technical innovations was the honeycomb radiator, which needed far less water than before to cool the engine. As to the name change to Mercedes, Jellinek is quoted as having said this in 1906: "For non-Germans the good old name Daimler was hard to digest. But a name sometimes means everything. It must be easy to pronounce for any tongue, must be catchy and stick in people's mind."

Jellinek at any rate was very good at promoting the new type of automobile. As early as 4 January 1901, just a few days after the arrival of the first Mercedes in Nice, the L'Automobile-Revue du Littoral published an article which stated: "There is nothing new to see in Paris right now – but in Nice. The first Mercedes car built in the workshops of Cannstatt has arrived in Nice, and thanks to the cooperativeness of its owner, Mr. Jellinek, all car drivers were able to have a close look at it. We make no secret of our opinion: the Mercedes car is very, very interesting. This remarkable vehicle will be a fearsome competitor in the races of 1901."

At the Nice racing week in late March 1901 the cars with the name Mercedes demonstrated to a large audience just what they were capable of: with four first-place and five second-place finishes the Daimler cars were in a class of their own – both in the long-distance run, the hillclimb and the mile race. The French manufacturer Panhard & Levassor, who had captured first place in all races of the previous year, withdrew its vehicles before the start.

"We were victorious all down the line: the Mercedes car has been launched. Mercedes was the car of the day," Emil Jellinek said for the record. Paul Meyan, general secretary of the French Automobile Club, coined the phrase: "We have entered the Mercedes era!" For until then, although the Germans Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler were regarded as the inventors of the automobile, the French were considered the better carmakers. The cream of society was enthusiastic about the new vehicle. In 1901 the American billionaires Rockefeller, Astor, Morgan and Taylor were among the buyers of the powerful Mercedes cars of DMG. Wilhelm Maybach, of whom Jellinek was convinced that he could "invent on command", and who was celebrated by the French as the king of constructors, developed the new method of building automobiles further. But Maybach shared the kudos with Jellinek: "You and I are the inventors of the Mercedes car," he wrote later on in a letter.

Monza 1955: the W 196 R waves goodbye

The Italian Grand Prix on September 11 brought the curtain down on the W 196 R Silver Arrows. With four events already cancelled that season and all the other races contested by open monoposto cars, Italy also represented the first outing of the season for the streamlined models. A comprehensive re-fit meant that Monza was now something of a high-speed track, and one which took the field past the main grandstand twice every lap. Acknowledging the circuit’s high average speeds, Neubauer sent Fangio and Moss out in long-wheelbase streamlined cars. Kling, meanwhile, was handed an open monoposto with medium wheelbase and Taruffi lined up with a likewise open, short-wheelbase car. The four Mercedes-Benz drivers dominated the race over the opening laps, before Moss was forced to retire on lap 19 and drive shaft damage ended Kling’s afternoon on lap 33. That left Fangio to complete a relatively untroubled last win at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz, with Piero Taruffi following him home only 0.7 seconds behind. At the end of the season, the Argentinean legend was crowned Formula One World Champion for the third time, with Stirling Moss 17 points adrift in second place.

The second of the motor sport department’s goals for 1955, however, was still far from being fulfilled, as Neubauer recalled: “There was only one fly in the ointment: the Sports Car World Championship, also known as the “constructors’ title”, was as good as lost. The constructors’ title was awarded for the first time in 1953 – not to the best driver but to the manufacturer who ran the most successful cars. Ferrari had a clear lead and was almost out of sight. It was going to take a miracle to turn the situation around.” The 300 SLR racers had already demonstrated their prowess on several occasions, but neither the Eifel Race nor the Grand Prix of Sweden counted towards the World Championship.

The Mercedes-Benz team had decided to miss out the season-opening Buenos Aires 1000-kilometer race on January 23 and the Sebring 12-hour race on March 13, preferring to wait until the SLR was totally ready before giving the new car its debut. Moss and Fangio’s 1-2 finish in the Mille Miglia appeared to vindicate Neubauer’s strategy, but then came the tragic events of the Le Mans24-hour race. The 300 SLRs had taken the lead, but were pulled from the race by the Mercedes-Benz management as a mark of sadness and respect after the accident. And that meant no points to add to their championship total.

Baron de Rothschild’s Mercedes racing car at the Nice Week, on 25 March 1901. A memorable picture of the international long-distance motor race, with the 35 hp Mercedes (Continental Reifen). The scene: at the finishing line of the Nice – Salon – Nice race. Wilhelm Werner won the race (a distance of 392 km) in 6 hours 45 min.

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft’s Mercedes 35 hp of 1901, designed by Wilhelm Maybach.

Italian Grand Prix in Monza, September 11, 1955. Juan Manuel Fangio (start number 18) at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Formula One racer with streamlined bodywork was the first to receive the checkered flag, with Piero Taruffi driving a Mercedes-Benz W 196 R open-wheel racer hot on his heels.

Juan Manuel Fangio at the Italian Grand Prix on 11 September 1955. Fangio wins the race ahead of Piero Taruffi.

Fast trio: Fangio, Moss and Kling in the Italian Grand Prix, 1955.
Credits: Daimler AG

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andy said...

1600 HP / 2400 CC 600 KG

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