The new Silver Arrows era began officially when the former BAR, Honda and Brawn team was rebranded as Mercedes GP Petronas in Stuttgart on January 25. A week later in Jerez a Mercedes Formula 1 car was due to take to the track in an official capacity for the first time since the 1955 Italian GP, when Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Karl Kling and Piero Taruffi gave the W154 its final race outing.
In a nod to history the race numbers on the nose of the new W01 are red on a white background. The main livery hints at the birth of the Silver Arrows legend at the Nürburgring in 1934, when the white paint of Germany was allegedly scraped off the W25 to reduce weight, revealing the silver aluminium below. On the current version carbon-fibre black is revealed beneath the silver.
“I’m really excited, as you can imagine,” said Michael Schumacher (below). “It’s something important, to see the combination that I’m now joining into. And basically that’s the reason why I accepted this offer, because Mercedes was the one to initiate my F1 debut, and now I’m able to return to Mercedes, hopefully with good results, and be able to give back something.
“In 2010 with this great combination of Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP and the experience that I’ve got we can only aim for one target – that is winning the championship. That is very easy to say, and very hard to do. But that’s why we have three years in front of us, and our target is finally to achieve it.”
Like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, Mercedes heads into the 2010 season with a theoretically equal driver pairing, but with one man clearly expected to establish his dominance.
Schumacher gave a reminder of his ability to exploit every possible advantage when he got his comeback underway early with three days at Jerez driving the 2011 GP2 development car on behalf of the series organisers. Although wet weather cut his mileage the opportunistic outing gave the German veteran a chance to put his neck to the test in a quick single-seater.
“What I’ve seen already is the determination Michael has, and the passion he has for the sport,” said Brawn. “It’s all there, it’s all back again. In fact, perhaps even more passion than he was enjoying when he stopped – because there was a reason why he stopped, and what I see now is tremendous enthusiasm. It’s going to be a fantastic asset for our team and our people to be working with him. He’s very special.”
Intriguingly, the ages of the two Mercedes drivers bear an uncanny reflection of 1955. When Fangio started his second season with Mercedes he was 43, while team new boy Moss was 25. Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are currently 41 and 24 respectively. And just like Stirling, Rosberg is still looking for his first win. Brawn is adamant that it’s a combination that will work.
“We see a huge talent with Nico. He’s very fast, [with the] same level of dedication as Michael. They’re going to make a fantastic partnership, because he’ll learn so much from Michael.
“There will be the raw talent of Nico, which in a driver of his age will still need some development. It’s an exciting pairing. They are obviously going to want to beat each other, but we want to build a team where they want to help each other as well and bring the team forward and do the things they need to do for the team.” Adam Cooper