SportF1Top Mercedes drivers: Hamilton, Fangio, Moss and more

Top Mercedes drivers: Hamilton, Fangio, Moss and more

Mercedes has a longer history in racing than any other Formula 1 constructor. Although it did not appear in the first F1 world championship in 1950, as Ferrari did, the legend of the Silver Arrows had already been forged before the Second World War . World .

That’s why, in this “Top 10 Drivers” list, we’ve expanded the scope beyond F1 to include all the major races, starting with the 1906 French GP near Le Mans. The importance of all the events, many of which were independent or part of the European Championship, varied, but the main ones were similar to the races in F1 today.

Mercedes has been in and out of motorsport over the years, but there were still plenty of contenders for this list. For our selection, we have considered the success the drivers had with Mercedes, the impact they had on the team and the circumstances of their time there. His achievements in other teams are not counted.

10. Luigi Fagioli

Luigi Fagioli with racing team manager Alfred Neubauer

Luigi Fagioli con el team manager Alfred Neubauer

Years at Mercedes: 1934-36
Wins with Mercedes: 6
Titles with Mercedes: 0

In terms of talent and skill, Fagioli would be higher on this list, but his time at Mercedes was not without its problems.

The fiery and strong Italian had already won with Maserati and Alfa Romeo when Mercedes signed him for his return to GP racing in 1934. He immediately came into conflict with race engineer Alfred Neubauer on team orders, but still won the Coppa Acerbo, the Italian GP (with Rudolf Caracciola) and the Spanish GP.

“He was a true tiger in action, driving with a determination as great as the skill he had accumulated from so many years behind the wheel,” said Rodney Walkerley in the 1966 book Great Racing Drivers, edited by David Hodges. “He was definitely one of the great drivers, although his style was more brutal than polished.”

He accumulated more successes in 1935, but the tension in the team was not reduced, especially due to his rivalry with Caracciola. He brilliantly won the Monaco GP, but was also furious mid-race in Belgium while racing Caracciola, due to more team orders. It was Caracciola’s season and Fagioli finished second to the German in the European Championship.

After a disappointing 1936 for both Mercedes and Fagioli, he joined Auto Union . But that was not a fruitful change. Fagioli was affected by health problems, although he still had enough energy to physically attack Caracciola after the Tripoli GP!

Fagioli was part of the famous Alfa Romeo team after World War II. His victory at the 1951 French GP, largely thanks to Juan Manuel Fangio getting behind the wheel of his 159, made the then 53-year-old the oldest driver to win a world championship race (a record still in force today). ). Fagioli died after an accident at the 1952 Monaco GP for sports cars.

9. Manfred von Brauchitsch

Manfred von Brauchitsch winning the 1937 Monaco GP

Manfred von Brauchitsch ganando in the GP de Monaco 1937

Years at Mercedes : 1934-39
Wins with Mercedes: 3
Titles with Mercedes: 0

The aristocratic von Brauchitsch, whose first steps in competition were in the world of two wheels, was a pillar of the Mercedes team before the Second World War, although he was not always the luckiest driver.

Having raced and certainly won the SSK, von Brauchitsch gave the W25 its first victory when Mercedes returned to motorsport, at the Eifelrennen in 1934. Perhaps he should have won the German GP at the Nurburgring a year later, but he suffered a failure on the tires. By contrast, Tazio Nuvolari achieved one of his most famous triumphs in an inferior Alfa Romeo.

Von Brauchitsch was largely overshadowed by Caracciola, but finished runner-up in the European Championship in 1937 and 1938. His win at the 1937 Monaco GP in the mighty W125 was perhaps his best, while he also won the 1937 French GP. 1938 with the three-litre W154, on both occasions leading a Mercedes treble (1st, 2nd and 3rd). He was supposed to win the 1938 German GP, but a fire in the pitlane allowed Richard Seaman, another candidate for this list (who was left out), to take his only major victory with Mercedes.

Although he won little and in spaced races, Mercedes sometimes used von Brauchitsch to set the pace and was a regular on the podium until the outbreak of World War II, although after the war he did not return to front-line competition.

8. Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1st position, with his trophy

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, con el trofeo

Years at Mercedes : 2017-21
Wins with Mercedes: 10
Titles with Mercedes: 0

Eighty years after Mercedes began its first period of sustained dominance in racing at the highest level, it did so again as F1’s turbo-hybrid era began. The rest of the teams could only collect the leftovers that the Germans left between 2014 and 2016.

Bottas impressed enough during his four seasons at Mercedes-customer Williams to earn a place at the all-powerful team when Nico Rosberg decided to retire five days after taking the 2016 title.

The Finn immediately helped improve the atmosphere at the team, which had become tense during the Lewis Hamilton-Nico Rosberg rivalry. Bottas took his first pole position at the third round in Bahrain and his first victory at the following round, in Russia.

Valtteri Bottas proved that, on his good days, he could take on and beat the best drivers in the world, including Hamilton. But he couldn’t consistently achieve that level of performance, with the Briton generally gaining the upper hand in tire management, race management and in the wet.

Bottas battled for a winless fifth place in the 2018 championship, but recovered to take six wins and finish twice as runner-up to Hamilton in 2019 and 2020. He also tended to get unlucky at Mercedes, as his pit stop illustrates. of ’43 hours’ at the 2021 Monaco GP.

Bottas did not feel comfortable as number 2, but he was very much a good team man and contributed to the five constructors’ titles that Mercedes won during his time with them.

Perhaps that was perfectly reflected in 2021, when Bottas edged out Red Bull ‘s Sergio Perez by 36 points. That was enough to overcome the margin by which Hamilton lost to Max Verstappen, even though the RB16B was a car that seemed overall (albeit ever so slightly) quicker than the Mercedes W12.

7. Christian Lautenschlager

Christian Lautenschlager on his way to win the 1914 French GP

Christian Lautenschlager on his way to victory at the 1914 French GP

Years at Mercedes : 1908, 1913-14
Wins with Mercedes: 2
Titles with Mercedes: 0

A lifelong Daimler/Mercedes veteran, Lautenschlager had been a machinist, mechanic, co-driver and test driver before getting the chance to race one of the Mercedes cars at the 1908 French GP, arguably the biggest event of each. season during an era when there were very few grand prix.

The strong and fit Lautenschlager won the GP, which took almost seven hours to complete, by almost nine minutes over the other two Benz cars (the two firms had not yet merged).

Perhaps even more importantly, the German took victory in the epic 1914 French GP at Lyon in another of his rare races.

The preparation of Mercedes was thorough, something that would come to define the brand, and entered five cars. His main rival was the three Peugeot cars, who had won the French GP in the previous two editions.

French star Georges Boillot put up a stiff fight against Mercedes, despite having to do far more tire stops than the white cars (white was the German national racing color at the time), but the Peugeot couldn’t keep up with the pace. relentless and the calculating Lautenschlager took the lead in the closing laps. He reached the finish line at the end of the seven-hour event leading a Mercedes hat-trick, which remains one of the Teutonic manufacturer’s most famous moments.

Lautenschlager continued to drive for Mercedes after World War I, including an attempt at the Indianapolis and Targa Florio 500s, but scored no further major successes and had retired by the time Mercedes’ next major racing program arrived.

6. Stirling Moss

Race winner Stirling Moss, Mercedes-Benz W196; second place Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes-Benz W196

The winner Stirling Moss, Mercedes-Benz W196; the second Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes-Benz W196

Years at Mercedes: 1955
Wins with Mercedes: 1
Titles with Mercedes: 0

Mercedes’ return to racing had gone well in 1954, when Fangio took the drivers’ title and four wins from six grands prix in the W196 . But he often lacked strong enough backing from his teammates.

The solution was rising star Stirling Moss, who had impressed with the Maserati 250F in 1954, and Mercedes boss Neubauer had told Moss that he wanted to see that.

There was mutual respect between the two drivers, Moss was happy to learn from him in F1 racing as he led Mercedes’ sports car project. It was Moss’s three brilliant victories with the 300SLR that secured Mercedes the 1955 World Sports Car Championship.

He also won the British GP, leading a Mercedes poker (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th), although he was never sure if Fangio had let him win his home race or not. Elsewhere, Moss supported the great Argentine in his battle for his third F1 title and took second place behind Fangio in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The W196 has become one of the great racing cars of all time, but it wasn’t the easiest to drive and it forced Fangio and Moss to pull out all the stops to race consistently at the front of the grid. His year alongside Fangio confirmed Moss as one of motorsport’s stars, and from then on he could be a team leader anywhere else.

Moss was a superb second-stringer and would surely have continued as part of the super team had Mercedes not pulled out of racing after the Le Mans disaster, a race Moss and Fangio were on course to win together.

5. Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid

Years at Mercedes: 2010-16
Wins with Mercedes: 23
Titles with Mercedes: 1 (2016)

Rosberg joined Mercedes in 2010 when the brand re-entered F1 after buying the Brawn GP team that had won the 2009 title. He overtook Michael Schumacher, but it was always difficult to assess what that meant, as after the After suffering a motorcycle accident in 2009 and three years out of the top flight, Schumacher was clearly not the same rider who won seven titles during his ‘first’ spell.

Mercedes struggled to keep up with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren F1 between 2010 and 2012, but Rosberg took his first pole position and victory at the 2012 Chinese GP.

The team became big at the same time that Rosberg’s old karting rival and 2008 F1 world champion Hamilton signed for them for 2013. That year Red Bull was still too strong and the W04 often ate the tyres, but Mercedes was second in the constructors’ table. Hamilton finished ahead of Rosberg in the standings, although the German had two wins to one for the Briton.

Mercedes’ huge investment in the new turbo-hybrid engine gave Rosberg and Hamilton the dominant car in 2014. They battled it out for the title and, although Rosberg was a serious opponent, Hamilton tended to take the lead, taking 11 wins to five. of Nico on the way to his second crown.

We live more of the same in 2015, despite a certain battle that Ferrari raised. Hamilton beat Rosberg 10-6 and comfortably renewed the title, but three wins in a row at the end of Rosberg’s run paved the way for the following season.

After that, Nico Rosberg started 2016 with four consecutive wins to quickly build a cushion of points at the top of the table. Hamilton would then pick up his pace, but a combination of poor starts, the odd lack of reliability from Mercedes and a well-managed lead from Rosberg allowed him to reach the Abu Dhabi final 12 points clear.

Poleman Hamilton slowed the pace so teammate and rival Rosberg would have trouble with other rivals, but the German controlled his nerves, including a good overtake on Verstappen, to take second and take the championship. Mission accomplished, he announced his surprising retirement from F1 just five days later.

Rosberg’s time alongside Hamilton was increasingly tense and there were significant clashes, most notably at the 2016 Spanish and Austrian GPs , but there is no doubt that he played his part in an incredibly successful period for the team.

4. Hermann Lang

Hermann Lang

Hermann Lang

Years at Mercedes: 1935-39
Wins with Mercedes: 8 (not counting the 1939 Tripoli GP)
Titles with Mercedes: 0

Unlike some of his peers, ex-motorcycle racer Lang came from a humble family and worked as a mechanic on Fagioli’s car before his chance as a driver presented itself.

After a handful of races in 1935 and 1936, Lang began to get into shape in 1937, especially on high-speed circuits. He won the Tripoli GP at the fast Mellaha track with the fearsome 600bhp 5.6-litre W125 and the Avusrennen (averaging over 258km/h) with a special aerodynamic version.

Limited success followed in 1938, as grand prix rules imposed engine capacity at three litres, but Lang was already a consistent favorite to win. Although Lang finished behind Caracciola and von Brauchitsch in the European championship, he won the Tripoli and Coppa Ciano races (after the winner von Brauchitsch was disqualified), neither of which brought him any points.

A settled Lang, aided by his mechanical understanding, led the Mercedes project through 1939, winning the Pau, Belgian and Swiss GPs, as well as the Eifelrennen at Nurburgring in the superb W154 . His victory in Switzerland came against Caracciola in the wet, conditions in which Lang had previously struggled.

He was considered by some to be the European champion of 1939, although the idiosyncratic scoring system of the time meant that Auto Union’s Hermann Muller was probably the unofficial winner of the title.

Lang also completed his hat-trick at the Tripoli GP in the only appearance of the Voiturette (roughly Formula 2 equivalent) W165 . The event demonstrated the rivalry between Lang and Caracciola as each believed the other had the better car. Lang dominated the race to lead a Mercedes one-two.

Lang was probably the closest driver to Nuvolari at the top of the 1939 grands prix and surely he was poised for much more. His best years were almost certainly lost to World War II.

Lang returned after the end of the war and even contested the 1954 German GP with Mercedes, but did not reach the same level. However, he won the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours with Fritz Riess in Lang’s only participation in the legendary endurance race.

3. Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes-Benz W196

Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes-Benz W196

Years at Mercedes: 1954-55
Victories with Mercedes: 9 (8 in the F1 World Championship)
Titles with Mercedes: 2 (1954-55)

Juan Manuel Fangio was already world champion when Mercedes called him on his return to the top of motorsport. Before the W196 was ready for the new 2.5-litre F1, Fangio drove a Maserati 250F in the 1954 Argentine and Belgian GPs, winning both.

The W196, in streamlined form, appeared for July’s French GP and Fangio led Karl Kling in a Mercedes one-two. He was beaten at the British GP (where the car was unwieldy) and the season-closing Spanish GP (where he overheated), but won three more rounds of the championship in between to take the title easily.

Except at Reims, Fangio was not backed by the other Mercedes drivers, so without him the German team’s comeback would not have been so brilliant in 1954.

But in 1955 the support of Moss arrived and Fangio dominated the season, cut short after the Le Mans disaster. Fangio won the Argentine GP in one of the hottest F1 races and, two weeks later, took the non-championship Buenos Aires GP.

All three W196s broke down in Monaco, Fangio’s while he was leading, but the Silver Arrows were untouchable from then on, helped by Lancia’s financial problems and the death of Alberto Ascari.

Fangio won the Belgian and Dutch GPs, with Moss at both events. He finished behind his young team-mate at the British GP, and then won the Italian GP with Piero Taruffi completing the Mercedes one-two.

Soon after, Mercedes would withdraw from the sport, leaving Fangio’s account with the team at two titles and eight wins in 12 races in the world championship.

2. Rudolf Caracciola

Rudolf Caracciola charging to victory at the 1939 German GP

Rudolf Caracciola, towards victory in the 1939 German GP

Years at Mercedes: 1926-31, 1934-39
Wins with Mercedes: 17 (not counting wins in SS, SSK and SSKL)
Titles with Mercedes: 3 (1935, 1937-38)

“Caracciola and Mercedes became synonymous over time,” wrote Richard von Frankenberg in Great Racing Drivers. “Daimler-Benz owes many of its victories in famous races around the world to his talent.”

Once a car salesman, Caracciola was the star of the pre-war Silver Arrows, no small feat given that his accident in Monaco in 1933 left him with a permanent limp. He was also a teacher in the rain.

Originally a motorcycle racer, Caracciola achieved some significant successes with the Mercedes before the company’s big push in the 1934 GPs. As well as masterfully climbing the hills, he won the inaugural German GP (in the wet) in 1926 and scored victories with the huge SSK and SSKL models in the 1929 RAC Tourist Trophy, 1931 Mille Miglia and 1931 German GP, against tough rivals Bugatti and Alfa Romeo, before Mercedes withdrew from racing.

After a season at Alfa Romeo and while still recovering from his accident in Monaco, Caracciola’s 1934 season was unspectacular when Mercedes returned, but in 1935 it was a different story. Armed with the ever-evolving W25 , Caracciola won the French, Belgian, Swiss and Spanish GPs to secure his first European crown, as well as the non-point-scoring Tripoli GP.

Auto Union’s Type C was too strong for the increasingly awkward W25 in 1936 and rising star Bernd Rosemeyer took the European title, but Caracciola completed one of his greatest wins at Monaco in terrible conditions in which other geniuses, including the other three Mercedes drivers crashed.

Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s legendary W125 returned the balance of power to Mercedes for the final year of the 750kg formula in 1937. Wins at the German, Swiss and Italian GPs, as well as a second-place finish in Monaco, gave Caracciola another European title ahead of teammates von Brauchitsch and Lang.

Wins spread more evenly as three-litre rules and the W154 arrived, but Caracciola finished on the podium at every round of the European championship, including another win in the wet at the Swiss GP, to take his third degree in four years.

Although he surpassed his considerable best in 1939, Caracciola achieved his sixth first place finish at the German GP that year, a record that has yet to be broken. That’s not counting his four Eifelrennen victories at the fearsome Nürburgring, which add to his status as one of the greatest pre-war drivers.

After World War II, Caracciola suffered a major accident during practice for the 1946 Indianapolis 500. He drove for Mercedes in a few sports car events, finishing fourth in the 1952 Mille Miglia, before retiring following an accident at Bremgarten.

1. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1, 1st position, lifts his trophy on the podium

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1, con su trofeo en el podio

Years at Mercedes: 2013-present
Wins with Mercedes: 82
Titles with Mercedes: 6 (2014-15, 2017-20)

Six world championships, 82 victories and the Hamilton-Mercedes story is not over yet. These are all records for a driver in a single team and Lewis Hamilton is already settled in the debate about the greatest driver of all time, so this position in the all-time list was inevitable.

Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes at the end of 2012 seemed risky, given the success he had enjoyed at the Woking outfit and the fact that Mercedes had claimed just one win since returning to F1 in 2010. But the team moved up to second place in the 2013 constructors’ championship and, more importantly, had moved ahead of its rivals with its new engine for the start of the turbo-hybrid era.

At that glorious stage in which Mercedes had an insultingly superior car, Rosberg put up a fight, but Hamilton usually had the advantage. While Mercedes dominated, Hamilton won the 2014 and 2015 titles before being overtaken in 2016 by Rosberg himself, who later retired.

Stung by the loss and with wider, faster cars for 2017, Hamilton seemed to find another gear. And he was also happier within the team after the meek Bottas replaced Rosberg.

Despite Ferrari’s step forward, Hamilton won the championships in 2017 and 2018. That last season was arguably one of the best in F1 history, as he was leading the world championship even before Mercedes hit the early pace. from Ferrari.

Hamilton and Mercedes were largely unstoppable in 2019 and 2020, with the 2020 W11 being perhaps the team’s best car as it won 13 of 17 races in a pandemic-affected season. Hamilton’s pole position in Belgium was outstanding, setting a new F1 lap speed record during qualifying for the Italian GP and taking one of his best wins in Turkey.

The tweaks to the rules for 2021 slowed Mercedes down a bit and Red Bull caught up with them. Hamilton had a season-long battle with Verstappen, but lost on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP.

Although he made several mistakes that ultimately caused him to lose the world championship, especially in Imola and Baku, Hamilton’s level was high. He will be joined by the highly-rated George Russell in 2022 when F1’s new rules era ends, so Hamilton faces another career challenge as he approaches 40.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

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