Seven Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Legends | Inspire
Seven Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Legends
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Good to Know

Seven Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Legends

It's a story of 116 years of glory – and tragedy – that rivals the most outlandish soap opera. All hail the seven race cars that cemented Mercedes-Benz's status as a legendary force in motorsports

1. Blitz Benz – 1911

The Type 35 PS may have been genesis, the first ever Benz to win a motor race back in 1901, but it was the aptly-named Blitz Benz that established Mercedes-Benz among the racing elite with a superlative 21-litre engine (each of its four cylinders was over 5 000cc). It was the first car to go 200km/h – faster than any locomotive or aircraft of the time.

2. Mercedes-Benz W25 – 1934

The years between the World Wars were, for many, the golden era of German motorsport. Daimler and Benz merged in 1926 to form Mercedes-Benz, and the arms race against Ferdinand Porsche's Auto Union led to the most powerful Grand Prix cars the world had ever seen – supercharged monsters capable of 300km/h. Mercedes-Benz race driver Manfred von Brauchitsch said racing them was like "driving with boiling water in your trousers". That year at the Eifel GP at the Nürburgring, Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix racing manager Alfred Neubauer famously discovered that his cars exceeded the 750kg weight limit, so he scratched off the white paint, leaving just the bright aluminium bodywork. And so the Silver Arrows were born.

3. Mercedes-Benz W194 300 SL – 1952 

After WW2 it was the dawn of the third epoch of the Silver Arrows – this time with an emphasis on road racing. Mercedes-Benz entered a prototype 300 SL (super light) at the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico, which won the 3 500km road race. It then went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, with aerodynamics, lightness and reliability as its weapons against the Ferraris and Lancias of the day. Three years later, however, a 300 SLR leading Le Mans left the track and crashed into spectators at over 220km/h. Eighty people died and Mercedes-Benz withdrew from all motor racing.

4. Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II – 1992 

Three decades later Mercedes-Benz mounted a fresh bid for motorsport glory, identifying the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), or German Touring Car Championship, as a great marketing tool for its road cars. Success eluded them from '88 – '91, but in 1992 racing driver Klaus Ludwig took the championship in the EVO II – an extraordinary car that would eventually utilise a sliding weight system in the floor to counteract the four-wheel-drive Alfas, Audis and Opels. Genius.

5. Sauber Mercedes C11 ¬– 1990

Alongside DTM, Mercedes-Benz also set about to dominate endurance racing in partnership with Swiss race team owner Peter Sauber. One Michael Schumacher was a junior development driver at the time, and the iconic Group C race car would go on to win numerous titles thanks to a potent 544kW V8 engine capable of propelling it over 400km/h down the infamous Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.

6. Penske-Mercedes PC23 – 1994   

The Indianapolis 500 wasn't only the world's best-attended race but also a folk spectacle, drawing more than 750 000 spectators each year. In 1994 Mercedes-Benz made it its own – with the help of autosport engineering company Ilmor, which found a gap in the Indy Car regulations to build a 1 000hp race engine (745kW) – way more powerful than any other car on grid. Racing driver Al Unser Jr won Mercedes-Benz's only Indy 500 by more than a lap. A week later the winning engine was banned.

7. Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid – 2014 

After a 55-year hiatus, Mercedes-Benz returned to GP racing in 2010 with a full factory team headed by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Outright victory eluded them until 2014 and the introduction of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W05 Hybrid that secured the F1 World Championship at the hands of Lewis Hamilton. The Brit repeated the feat in 2015, and Rosberg again in 2016, signalling halcyon days for Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS in the hybrid F1 era. 

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