Monthly Archives: September 2014

Formula 1: The Emergence of Team Mercedes

In 1950, the FIA brought in changes to make motor racing more competitive and exciting. A new formula, the Formula One was established. Under the new rules, weight limits were scrapped. Car engines could have any amount of power. It could be a supercharged 1,500 cc or those that could attain 4,500 cc. There was also a Formula Two category for cheaper and less powerful car engines. The FIA arranged races in a calendar comprising of Italian, French, Belgian, Swiss, Monaco and British Grand Prix. There were thirteen teams consisting of about thirty drivers. Other races out of the championship were also put on the calendar.

An attempt to tame German and Italian dominance

Racing events became orderly. As expected, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari and Talbot kept swiping places. British Racing Motors (BRM) would later arrive on the car racing scene. The company was founded by Raymond Mays, a racer in the pre-war era. He was sickened by the dominance held by Italian and German constructors. The two had dominated motor racing for two generations. BRM was a prestigious company whose aim was to stamp British authority in motor racing. The company commissioned Rolls-Royce to design a supercharged engine with a 1500 cc capacity.

BRMs – total failure

Progress on the new car was painfully slow. At one point, the winter in Lincolnshire was bitterly cold forcing draughtsmen to wear special gloves. Eventually, five years later, the final product was unveiled. It was during the British Grand Prix and the car ended up being a total disappointment. Tens of thousands of fans who included Queen Elizabeth watched in dismay as it tottered. Nothing worked even in the later races. The BRM was a complete failure. New FIA rules rendered it ineligible. In the same year, 1952, Mays went bankrupt. His company was taken over by its banker.

Mercedes – better and organized

As BRM faded into oblivion, Mercedes managed to rebuild its team. By 1954, its cars were exceptional. Mercedes drivers were among the best in the world. The company had enough money to finance development of Grand Prix cars. The company was highly organized. With Alfred Neubauer as the team manager, it was not difficult to see how successful Mercedes was. Neubauer felt that every driver should make his own decisions. There was a general rule in the team that once a driver secured a lead, no teammate was supposed to challenge him. Neubauer developed a the red and black flag signal used to advise drivers on whether to slow down, speed up or maintain current speed.

Equipped and well-staffed

Team Mercedes enjoyed luxurious breakfast menus carefully selected by the team manager. It modernized its cars and added ferocity to their engines. There was also a mobile workshop that travelled with the team to any circuit. The Mercedes-Benz workshop truck had every kind of kit a Formula One team would envy. It had grinding equipment, precision drills and welding gear. The team’s high-speed racing car transporter could, cruising at speeds of over 100 mph, quickly deliver a racing car to and from European circuits. Over 200 people worked directly with the racing team.

A winning driver

From 1952 onwards, FIA made it compulsory for Formula One drivers to wear crash helmets. This was to later save their key driver, Argentinean born Juan Manuel Fangio. The talented and passionate driver handed Mercedes four wins in 1954. That year alone, Fangio won six out of nine championship races. Fangio commanded a lot of respect among his peers. His genius on and off the track coupled with teaming up with the likes of Moss led the world to take a bow for Mercedes.

Why you should not Miss the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix

During the days leading to the Monaco Grand Prix, hundreds of tourists flock to Monte Carlo. Monaco has a population of around 31,000 people. The number swells to more than 200,000 on the actual race weekend. Qualifying races are held on Thursday. Circuit roads are closed from as early as 7 am. During the race, visitors are not allowed to walk on the circuit or access the port and pit areas. However, you can do so on Friday afternoon when there are no races. This is also the only time during which you can also take photos of the pits.

Bus and shuttle companies still operate on racing weekends. The only thing is that routes are restricted and most roads are congested. You had better walk, just like most visitors do. If you would like to take a walk around the Circuit de Monaco, Friday afternoon and Saturday evening are the best times. Monaco gets into party mode on Saturday evening. After an enjoyable day out in the sun and on spectator stands, plan to be part of the sundowner. Most importantly, remember to bring your tickets along. Otherwise, you will miss out on the race.

Your stay at Monaco need not be expensive. You can still manage on a small budget. Food stalls run by local charities and volunteers provide soft drinks and snacks at reasonable prices. With prices controlled, you need not worry about buying your favorite drink at an outrageous price. On the other hand, even though restaurant menus are restricted, the service is fast. There are no restrictions on photography. Visitors are allowed to take as many photos as they like. Security is also tight but you need to keep your camera and smart phone with you all the time.

Carrying of food to the spectator stands is allowed. It is highly recommended that you avoid using glasses and glass bottles. Carry ear defenders and ear plugs as it can get very loud especially if this is your first Grand Prix event you have ever attended. If you have a Sunday ticket, you may be allowed admittance into the pits on a Friday. This, however, is subject to confirmation. You can double check with your online ticketing site or vendors at the booths. While Monaco enjoys fair weather between April and August, it would help to keep an eye on the weather.

If the predictions are that it will be hot, carry a hat and sun cream. In case there are signs it might rain, a poncho (wrap coat) would be most appropriate. For additional comfort at the spectator stands, carry a seat cushion. Visitors can also rent miniature TVs. With one of this, you can follow the race by listening to commentaries, enjoy replays and view statistics. When the streets reopen, take the chance and walk the circuit. Dance the night away with music from one of the numerous DJs. There are tables where you can sit and enjoy dinner or have some drinks. Your trip to the Monaco Grand Prix 2015 will surely count.