Following in Fangio’s footsteps: ’54 Fever
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg stand on the brink of history this week as they both look to become the first driver to win a home grand prix for Mercedes at Hockenheim.
Mercedes last won the German Grand Prix back in 1954 through Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio. The race was held at the fearsome Nordschliefe circuit, but was marred by the death of Maserati driver Onofre Marimon on the Saturday. Nevertheless, the race went ahead as planned on Sunday, and saw Fangio claim his fourth win of the year en route to his second world title.
The famous W196 car ran in the 1954 and 1955 seasons before Mercedes withdrew from Formula 1 as a works team. Despite working as an engine supplier for many years, it did not return off its own back until 2010 following the acquisition of Brawn GP, and has since become the most dominant team in the sport.
Barring a double disaster as we saw in Canada, it’s really a question of which Mercedes driver will win. Just 11 days shy of being 60 years to the day of Mercedes’ last victory on home soil, either Hamilton or Rosberg will have the honour of following in his footsteps and hearing the German national anthem ring out at Hockenheim.
Mercedes will also become the first German constructor to win at home since ’54 if the Silver Arrows can deliver on Sunday. That said, looking at the quality of German teams in the sport – Zakspeed, ATS, Rial – it’s not exactly surprising.
For Rosberg, there isn’t quite the same wait to bring to an end for German drivers. Since the turn of the century, there have been five home wins between three drivers – Michael Schumacher, baby bro Ralf, and Sebastian Vettel – but still, Nico will be chasing a win to maintain his championship lead.
History awaits one of the drivers. The next couple of races could be very important in deciding which of them follows Fangio as being Mercedes’ first world champion since 1955.
As a side note – this year is also the 60th anniversary of Germany’s first World Cup victory in 1954. Known as the “Miracle of Bern”, the nation’s victory over Hungary in the final was momentous given that the Nazi regime had fallen just nine years earlier. The team fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, and – rather neatly – Germany won yesterday’s World Cup final in Brazil against Argentina, where Fangio was from. Nice way to take things full circle!
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic and Wikimedia Commons, made available under Creative Commons.
Luke Smith is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Richland F1. Having started the website in March 2012, he has gone on to become one of the youngest members of the Formula 1 paddock after joining American broadcaster NBC Sports at the beginning of the 2013 season. Luke now works as the network's lead F1 writer, supporting the TV coverage on nbcsports.com. Luke's work has also been featured on NBC News, Yahoo! Sports and in Driven Magazine, and he has also appeared on CNBC's TV series "One Second in F1 Racing".