Lewis Hamilton - Abu Dhabi GP 2014 42 Photos Zoom

Mercedes' secret of success: € 250 million for two titles

Mercedes had a series of victories in 2014 like McLaren in 1988 or Ferrari in 2002 and 2004. But how could the World Cup runner up in the 2013 season perform so much better just a year later? Because in early 2014, Mercedes prepared for the major rule reform and increased the budget to €250 million.

Success in Formula 1 mostly has a long run-up. Winning streaks do not happen overnight. In the era of Schumacher, Ferrari needed four years until the right people sat in the right place, until the tools and work processes were at the level to be able to build a master car. Mercedes also took lot of time for the first World Cup title after almost 60 years.

The team was born in 2010, the basis for the World Championship a year later. As project manager, Geoff Willis began work on the 2014 car with a group of three designers. Even before the regulations was established. As it has been defined, the group consisted of 15 people. At the time, the aerodynamics engineers were also added. The former team boss Ross Brawn knew from experience that sometimes a lot of patience is needed and a year written off in order to be on the right spot at the right moment. He had practised this with Benetton, Ferrari and BrawnGP.

Start of development for the 2014 car began already in 2011

Although in 2011, the teams only knew that the future of Formula 1 would boil down to small turbocharged engines with hybrid technology, there was a small group at Mercedes which dealt exclusively with this topic at the time. This reminds us of the success story of BrawnGP. In 2009, the regulations also changed. Ross Brawn stopped the development of the 2008 Honda early on in order to concentrate fully on the new aerodynamics rules. The trick with the double diffuser in a car that was no longer called Honda but BrawnGP resulted.

At Mercedes, a similar scheme took place. Only with a longer lead time. The architect of the master force remembers: "We were already asking questions of the FIA in relation to the regulations which no one had asked at the time. So we knew that we were miles ahead of the competition. Therefore, the engine is so well integrated into the car. Things such as the separation of the turbine and compressor do not occur overnight. The Mercedes engineers came up with the idea early in 2013. Those who had no concept for 2014, had come too late. The team saw the new rules as an opportunity. I'm surprised that not more teams have already jumped on the bandwagon."

Mercedes budget increased in four years to 100 million

The early start of the project alone would not have given Mercedes the success that then followed in 2014. The team needed more money. Ferrari and Red Bull had set the bar high with budgets beyond the €250 million barrier. Mercedes returned to Formula 1 in 2010 with a budget of €153 million. Some 40 million less than requested by the base in Brackley. It was a stake at virtually no cost. Covered by sponsors and the payments of Bernie Ecclestone. Only thus could the former race Director Norbert Haug sell Formula 1 to the management board of the company. He assumed that the FIA would enforce the announced cost capping. It never got that far.

Rather it became clear quickly that no race could be won with the meagre stake. Step by step, more money was laid in the war chest. The staff which had shrank to 400 employees, was beefed up again. In 2013 and 2014, Mercedes invested £195 million each year, which is equivalent to the current course of €250 million. This is about 50 million more than in 2012. Niki Lauda played a significant role in ensuring that management board in Stuttgart approved more funding for the Formula 1 project. He persuaded the heads of the company that the World Cup title in the premier class is not available at discount prices.

With the success, the grants from the coffers of rights holder. And thus the proportion that Mercedes must contribute is decreased. This year Mercedes got 2013 paid $92 million (€74 million) in the season for second place including a bonus. Thanks to the World Cup title, the sum will rise to $126 million (€102 million) in the coming season. If Mercedes is Word Champion again in 2015, there will be an additional surcharge. $156 million (€126 million) would be awarded to the racing team from Brackley.

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8 December 2014
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