Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs
As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 – Intro for details.]
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
It might be debatable whether Mercedes are entitled to a place in this list, after their successes in the 30’s, and again in the 50’s, but the Constructors’ Championship was not introduced until 1958 (when it was won by Vanwall) and so, as far as I am concerned, they are eligible.
Others tend to hang on (unrealistically, I feel) to a team’s ‘heritage’ and therefore, as the present-day Mercedes team came directly out of the 2009 Championship-winning Brawn team, that should also disqualify them from consideration here.
But they are here, so I obviously disagree with these two sentiments. First, the only connection between the present racing team and the previous teams is the name of the company, Mercedes – the three teams are quite separate entities… and anyway, were previously not eligible… so they must be, now.
Secondly, the 2010 Mercedes racing team was not the same team that Ross Brawn steered to the 2009 Championship. There were several people who have worked for both teams, and both teams were housed in the same buildings but, as far as I am concerned, they were not, and are still not, the same team, any more than they are the same team as the previous Honda… or BAR… or Tyrrell teams. And Tyrrell did win the Championship… so should that disqualify the present Mercedes team…?
In 2011 two teams were entered in the GP series as Lotus, and yet neither had any connection with the real Lotus team of the 60’s. In 2010 the BMW Sauber team had no connection with BMW, who had withdrawn from F1 at the end of 2009. The name didn’t change to avoid Sauber losing TV-rights money.
You are free to disagree with me – I shan’t be upset.
So… Mercedes bought a 45% stake in Brawn, along with Aabar Investments buying a further 30%, and renamed it Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team, and their first act was to assert their ‘German-ness’ by releasing Button and Barrichello (who moved to McLaren and Williams, respectively) and bringing in Rosberg (from Williams), and Schumacher, from retirement. At the same time Mercedes sold back their 40% share of McLaren.
During their first season Rosberg scored three podiums which helped Mercedes attain 4th place in the Championship. Schumacher scored three 4th places… and was also penalised for dangerous driving after pushing Barrichello towards the pit-wall in Hungary.
During the winter Mercedes and Aabar purchased the remaining 25% of what had been Brawn.
This history is too recent for me to need to remind you of what happened. I’m sure, also, you will all have your own views on what happened, and why… Most people seem to consider Rosberg was pretty much superior to Schumacher again, though they both performed less well than in 2010, leaving Mercedes still in 4th spot overall but with far fewer points.
Maintaining the same driver line up for the third consecutive year Mercedes put their cat amongst the other pigeons by adopting the McLaren ‘F’duct’ principle and developing it to also affect the front wing, when the rear-wing DRS was activated.
Prior to the first race in Australia Mr Whiting declared the Mercedes system legal. Red Bull and Lotus (the ‘Renault’ one…) asked the FIA to review this decision. Just before the next race, in Malaysia, the FIA simply reaffirmed their previous stance: that there was nothing illegal, and Mercedes raced on. At the third race, in China, Lotus filed a formal protest which was unanimously rejected by the stewards who claimed: Mercedes had sought clarification of their device from the Technical Dept. and it had been deemed permissible…
Does it seem possible the FIA was mainly justifying and defending its own original opinion on the matter, and was not actually considering the protests…? If they had agreed with the protesters they would have lost face (at the very least) with Mercedes. And you can imagine what Ross would have done about that…!
In the European GP Schumacher managed to get himself back onto a podium, and also recorded fastest lap in Germany… but Rosberg had already gone form Pole to Win in China, and a podium in Monaco, and later took fastest laps in the European and Italian GPs… but… Mercedes dropped to 5th place behind the more consistent Lotus Renault team.
Rosberg’s win was his first, Mercedes’ first for 57 years (when their other team had raced with Fangio and Moss, etc.), and the first win for a ‘German’ driver (Ho, ho, ho…) in a German car since Hermann Lang’s victory in the 1939 Swiss GP – a 1, 2, 3 for Mercedes (with also Caracciola and von Brauchitsch), followed by the Auto Unions of Muller and Nuvolari.
At the end of the year Schumacher bowed out (laughing all the way to the bank…) to be replaced by the previously announced Lewis… who had been courted by new non-executive director, Niki Lauda.
After three years the Mercedes Board seemed to be getting impatient so the musical chairs started, followed by the knife-throwing act. Ross recruited Aldo Costa from Ferrari, Geoff Willis from the collapsed HRT team, and Bob Bell and Mike Elliott from Renault. Then long-time Vice President of Motorsport, Norbert Haug was eased into an early retirement… to be replaced by Toto Wolff, latterly Executive Director at Williams, who also ‘bought’ 30% of the Mercedes team.
Toto became a shareholding executive director (commercial) who quickly snatched Paddy Lowe away from McLaren, to become executive director (technical), and these two were joined by Niki Lauda as… er… non- executive director… By the end of the year the upshot of this was an unsurprising resignation/retirement announcement from Ross Brawn.
Despite numerous set-backs, Mercedes now showed themselves to be a major player, as did Rosberg, who had not apparently bowed to Schumacher, for three years… and certainly had no intention of now moving over for ex- Champion, Hamilton. Rosberg took two wins, at Monaco and Silverstone, while Hamilton took three 3rd places, before taking his first win for his new team in Hungary, followed by another podium at Spa… while Nico went on to take two more podiums, and 6th place in the Championship, while Lewis edged ahead to 4th overall. Lewis also scored five Poles, to Nico’s three.
Together they helped put Mercedes in 2nd spot, but way behind Red Bull, and only 4pts. ahead of Ferrari.
This list of twenty constructors was compiled during the 2013-14 winter break and does not take into account any results of the current season. It seems pretty obvious that, by the end of this year, Mercedes will no longer be eligible – but they were, last winter…
[NB: and that was written of course before Sochi and as we all expected is also out of date…]
At the time of writing it is clear all is not well at Mercedes. When Toto came onboard, to replace ousted Haug, and then Brawn, he declared the position of ‘Team Principle’ was out-moded, and the likes of Brawn as being in sole charge were over. In it’s place Mercedes has installed a Roman-like triumvirate: Wolff, Lowe, & Lauda. Wolff seems to ‘support’ Rosberg, Lauda ‘supports’ Hamilton, and Lowe supports… er… himself…?
There were two main triumvirates in ancient Rome, designed to prevent one man assuming king-like supremacy which, in both cases, were reduced to one man effectively assuming king-like supremacy… and this, for a while, virtually brought Rome to its knees.
If, as appears to be the case, Wolff and Lauda are rarely in full accord, it is possible for either man to court the support of Lowe, to effect a two-man take-over but… they could both fail, and leave Lowe as top dog… At the moment they look more like the Marx brothers…
But… remember Lowe was originally courted by Toto for Williams… but, when Toto got his feet under the Mercedes table, it didn’t take Lowe too long to see where his bread was buttered… so, could Lauda already be standing on a risky-rug…?
Try Googling Toto: he has more fingers, in more pies, than most people have fingers… and the bigger they come, the harder they etc., etc… It’s not over, until it’s over, or until the fat one sings… and this Mercedes Management Mess is far from over.