Chinese GP Preview

Shanghai Circuit
Shanghai Circuit

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix is an historic event – it will mark the 1000th round of the Formula One World Championship. But the Chinese Grand Prix is not the only special anniversary the team is looking forward to. In fact, 2019 holds a number of historic anniversaries.

Toto Wolff Talks China

Two races into the 2019 season, it may seem like we're in a strong position. We have 87 points, just one below the maximum score. But the constructors' standings do not tell the full story.

The truth is that we weren't as quick as our direct competitors throughout qualifying and the race in Bahrain. The Ferrari was considerably faster on the straights and this added up to several tenths around one lap. Nevertheless, the saying goes that "in order to finish first, first you have to finish" and the combination of solid performances from the team, reliability of our systems and a strong drive from our drivers secured us the one-two.

The challenge we are facing doesn't daunt us – it's uplifting. We will keep pushing to extract the maximum performance from our package to deliver the best race we can. We will try and exert pressure, maximize our opportunities and keep working hard to develop our overall package. We've seen exciting races so far this season and we're looking forward to the next fight in Shanghai.

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix will also mark the 1000th Formula One World Championship race. 1000 races over almost 70 years is testament to the fantastic tradition and heritage of this sport. We're proud to represent one of the world's biggest brands in the series and we will do our very best to put on a good show on this historic occasion.

How it all began…for Mercedes

The new with the past
The new with the past

On 29 January 1886, Carl Benz filed patent no. DRP 37435 with the German Imperial Patent Office in Berlin for his "gas-powered vehicle". It was the day the automobile was born. Later that year, Gottlieb Daimler built his motorized carriage – independently of Carl Benz. The two inventions mark the beginnings of the long history of the automobile – and they ultimately lay the foundation to motorsport. Although it would take a little while before the first race was held.

125 Years of Motorsport

Eight years after the car was invented, the French daily newspaper "Le Petit Journal" organized the first ever competitive automobile race. It was a form of endurance race, held on public roads from Paris to Rouen on 22 July 1894. Of the 21 entrants lining up at the start, 17 made it to the finish – including nine vehicles powered by engines that were invented by Gottlieb Daimler and produced under license by the French vehicle manufacturer Panhard & Levassor. The objective of the race was to make the trip from Paris to Rouen as quickly as possible in a horseless carriage that was "not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey", the main prize was given to the competitor "whose car comes closest to the ideal". The 5,000 francs prize money for the top position were ultimately shared between a Panhard & Levassor and a Peugeot, both of which were powered by the two-cylinder V-engine that had been developed by Gottlieb Daimler and manufactured according to his original plans. A Benz vehicle also took part in the competition. The 3.7 kW (5 hp) car was 14th to cross the finish line but was promoted to fifth in the final standings for the "successful improvements to the motor car with petrol engine".

The birth of the Silver Arrows

Lewis Hamilton with an early Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton with an early Mercedes

2019 also marks the 85th anniversary of the Silver Arrows. The Eifelrennen, held on 3 June 1934 at the Nürburgring, was the first race in which the Mercedes-Benz W 25 – which would later be known as the first Silver Arrow – competed. The car was a completely new development, conceived in 1933 to be raced in a new formula for Grand Prix racing. According to the regulations of the new series, cars could not exceed a maximum weight of 750 kilograms without fuel, oil, coolant, and tires – but there were no other design restrictions, leaving lots of room for innovation. The Mercedes engineers from Stuttgart chose a classic vehicle architecture; an in-line eight-cylinder engine was mounted in the front and drove the rear wheels via a transmission on the rear axle. The supercharged 3.4-litre engine produced an output of 354 hp (260 kW). And what about that one limitation of 750 kilograms? Legend has it that the car was slightly above the limit when it was weighed the day before its first race; but the team was able to bring the starting weight of the W 25 down to the regulatory limit by grinding off the car's white paint, thus exposing its metallic silver skin – he first Silver Arrow was born. The following day, Manfred von Brauchitsch won the Eifelrennen in the W 25 while also setting a new track record with an average speed of 122.5 km/h. It was the first of many wins for the Silver Arrows. The W 25 would compete until 1937, the last year of the 750-kg formula, its design being modified to find more and more performance. The engine displacement was increased to a maximum of 4.7 liters, almost doubling the output to 646 hp (475 kW). The W 25 was raced by other motorsport legends such as Rudolf Caracciola and Luigi Fagioli during 1934 and 1935.

Mercedes in Formula One

65 years ago, on 4 July 1954, Mercedes made its Formula One debut at the French Grand Prix in Reims. The driver line-up included Juan Manuel Fangio, who would go on to win not only the French Grand Prix, but also the 1954 and 1955 World Championships, Karl Kling, Hans Herrmann and Hermann Lang. The team entered the series with a newly developed racing car, the W 196 R. It was powered by a 2.5 liter, inline 8-cylinder engine which produced 256 hp (188 kW) in its first race. The W 196 came in two different body options – the famous "streamliner", aerodynamically optimized for drag reduction on long straights; and the classic monoposto with open wheels. While the streamlined version quickly became an iconic race car due to its unconventional looks, it was actually the monoposto that was raced more often in 1954 and 1955, the two seasons that Mercedes competed in Formula One. But streamlined or not, both versions of the W 196 turned out to be extremely successful, winning nine out of the 12 Formula One races in which they competed.

Select Quotes

Lance Stroll
“I not sure what to expect from this weekend in China. I hope we can be more competitive than we were in Bahrain because it’s a different sort of track. There’s a nice flow with some quick corners and it’s fun to drive. It’s a very wide track in places with one of the longest straights of the year. We often see some drag races down to the final hairpin and it is probably the best overtaking opportunity of the lap.

“We struggled with the balance of the car in Bahrain and it’s something we worked to improve during the test last week. We are still learning how to maximize the current aero package, but it feels as though we are moving in the right direction. I think we can unlock more potential from the car this weekend in China.

“I’m proud to be on the grid for the 1000th F1 race. I’ve been watching this sport all of my life and I must have seen well over 250 races. When I was very young and living in Canada I would wake up early to watch the races in Europe at breakfast time. I remember supporting Michael Schumacher and I would always go to the Canadian race with my Dad each year. I think the battles between Schumacher and Alonso in 2006 are the races I remember the most.

“Of the races I’ve driven in, there’s no doubt that Baku 2017 is my favorite. It was a race with so much drama and I think it was exciting for the fans. It was just as thrilling from inside the cockpit and is definitely my Formula One highlight so far."

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

“I enjoy every visit to Asia and Shanghai is a really cool city. We see some really enthusiastic fans and that gives me great energy for the weekend. I don’t get enough time to really explore the city, but I always try the local food.

“The track itself is a challenge. When I think of China, I think of turn one. It’s a tricky corner: very long and it is difficult to be precise, so even the smallest mistake through there is costly and frustrating. It’s a front limited track, so you need to find a balance to get the front tires working through the long and quick corners. It’s a very technical track generally.

“As it’s the 1000th race, I’ve been thinking about some of the races I remember watching when I was younger. The first race I attended as a fan was Indianapolis in 2002 when I was twelve years old. It was the prize after winning a karting race in Miami organized by Juan Pablo Montoya.

“As a driver, the most memorable F1 race for me was probably Malaysia 2012. It was my second year in F1 and I finished on the podium in second place after a fantastic battle with Fernando Alonso. I watched a video of that race a few weeks ago and it’s still just as exciting today. The weather changed all the strategies and I was catching the Ferrari in the final laps. I think it was a great race for the fans."

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel
“The Chinese GP has been on the calendar for quite a while and it’s held on one of the most technical and difficult tracks of the year. Two of the corners are especially important: the first one and the one leading to the very long straight, over a kilometer in length. They’re both very technical and it’s difficult to find the right line because the track there is also very wide. They are challenging, not only in qualifying when you need to do just one lap, but also in the race. Looking after tires is one of the key points in Shanghai, it’s the most important job to do on Sunday in order to be fast for the whole race. In the past I’ve had some good races here with Ferrari, coming very close to winning. Maybe this time we’ll get that little bit of luck, so that we can really celebrate the thousandth Formula 1 race."

Charles Leclerc
“I don’t know the Shanghai track that well, having only raced there once, last year. I have good memories of qualifying, less so of the race itself. But overall, I like the track a lot because there are many different types of corner that you don’t find elsewhere on the calendar, especially turn 1, and also 13 which leads onto the long straight. Usually, the Chinese race is good fun, because the weather can be unpredictable and rain can arrive when you least expect it. It’s the thousandth race in the history of Formula 1 and I hope the car will be as good as it was in Bahrain, so that I can continue to go for the results we deserve."

Kimi Raikkonen:
“The next race will be a special one. I have had the chance to experience some of the great moments in Formula One history and am happy to continue making history with Alfa Romeo Racing. We have been working on making progress over the past two race weekends and feel confident of our potential. I look forward to seeing what we will achieve at this next one in Shanghai."

Antonio Giovinazzi:
“I look forward to arriving in China. To be competing in Formula One this year is something special to me and being part of the 1000th Grand Prix, such a historic event in our sport, is a great honor. I am proud to bring the Italian flag to one of the 20 cockpits at this event and will give my all to bring home a good result. We had a solid weekend in Bahrain and will work hard to deliver a strong performance this weekend in China."

Tires

Tires for China
Tires for China


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