A brief history of the Mercedes F1 team, including the team's origins, past drivers and its racing record in the F1 world championship
When it comes to the history of motoring there can be no more storied name than that of Mercedes-Benz with its links all the way back to the world's first gasoline-powered automobile, Karl Benz's 1886 Patent-Motorwagen. Motor sport was a natural way for Mercedes and its parent company Daimler to promote their wares, and the Silver Arrows marque dominated Grand Prix racing in the 1930s.
After the war Mercedes didn't immediately join the new Formula One championship until four years after it was launched, but when it did - as Daimler-Benz AG - its technologically advanced Mercedes-Benz W196 won on its very first outing and driver Juan Manuel Fangio went on to claim the 1954 world championship. He repeated the success the following year, but that success was overshadowed by a terrible accident in the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour race in which a Mercedes sportscar crashed and killed 80 spectators. The company felt that it could not continue in motorsport and pulled out of all championships - including Formula One - at the end of the year.
The Mercedes name didn't return to Formula One until 1994 when in association with Ilmor it became an engine supplier first to Sauber and then McLaren, with whom it won drivers’ championships in 1998, 1999 and 2008. Force India and Brawn GP subsequently joined the Mercedes fold, and the company decided to purchase an interest in the latter team in 2009. When Brawn GP won that year's driver and team championships, Mercedes decided to buy it outright: for the first time in over 50 years, a full Mercedes-owned and operated team was back in Grand Prix competition as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1.
However the transition from hand-to-mouth independent to full works team was by no means smooth. Ross Brawn kept his role as team principal but was increasingly at odds with the corporate structure and felt he was being eased out in favour of newcomers Toto Wolff (formerly of Williams F1) and Paddy Lowe (from McLaren) as well as the strident presence of former world champion Niki Lauda as the team's non-executive chairman.
After three solid seasons with an all-German driver line-up consisting of youth (Nico Rosberg) and experience (Michael Schumacher) yielded just one win for Rosberg in China in 2012, the team bade farewell to Schumacher and brought in Lewis Hamilton from McLaren. That helped them to second place in the 2013 constructors’ championship, and the following year - just after Brawn opted to retire from the sport - Mercedes utterly dominated to clinch both titles for the first time in over half a century. With success repeated in 2015 - as Hamilton secured the drivers’ title on both occasions - the team began to look like a repeat of the Red Bull dominance just a few years prior.
2016 saw Nico Rosberg take the Championship, through a thrilling season in which his relationship with Lewis Hamilton looked increasing hostile, a crash in Barcelona in which both drivers came together was a low point, the team worked hard to maintain order and see the season through. Things came to a head in Abu Dhabi when Lewis Hamilton, who sat seconds in the points, disobeyed team orders in an attempt to ensure he would retain his title. Ultimately Rosberg prevailed, achieving a childhood dream and silencing his critics.
In a shock turn of events Nico Rosberg then announced his retirement from F1 just a few days later, stating "Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my 'one thing' to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I've made it". This left Mercedes without a driver for 2017, following much speculation Valterri Bottas was announced as the replacement driver in January 2017 and will partner Lewis Hamilton in 2017.