At a time when the other major manufacturers announced their departure from the sport, Mercedes-Benz actually increased their presence in Formula 1; the German company acquired the highly successful Brawn GP team at the end of 2009. After serving as an engine supplier for the better part of twenty years, Mercedes-Benz would now field a complete car in 2010. Perhaps even bigger news was the signing of seven-time Michael Schumacher as one of the two drivers.
The last time a proper Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix car was raced was back in 1955. In the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss this W196 dominated Formula 1. The season was however completely overshadowed by the horrific accident at Le Mans that involved a Mercedes-Benz sports car. It took almost forty years before the Stuttgart based manufacturer returned as an engine supplier to the Sauber team. With McLaren three driver championships were scored and in 2009 Brawn GP used the Mercedes V8 to great effect. Their impressive efforts convinced Mercedes-Benz it was the right time to step up and buy the troubled yet highly successful team.
Dubbed the W01, the first 'Silver Arrow' in 55 years was already under development at Brackley long before the team changed owners. With only minimal changes to the regulations, the designers could have sufficed with an evolution of the championship winning machine. A lot of effort nevertheless went into updating the aerodynamics package to complement the superb handling of the chassis. Inspired by the Adrian Newey designed, 2009 Red Bull, the new W01 features a sloping nose with ridges on the edge. Particularly pleasing to the eye is the engine's sculpted air-intake. The V8 engine itself is virtually unaltered and is mated to a seven-speed gearbox.
Even though Ross Brawn sold his stake to Mercedes-Benz, he stayed with the team as principal. His presence must have made Michael Schumacher's decision to leave long-time employer Ferrari a little easier. Brawn was involved in all of the German's seven championships. His compatriot Nico Rosberg was already signed before the team was sold. With such a talented driver line-up, the resources of Mercedes-Benz and the genius of Ross Brawn, the Mercedes Grand Prix team must rank among the favourites for the 2010 championships.