Have Mercedes got their history wrong?

Mercedes claim the “silver arrows” livery revealed today, which their W01 will race with this year, harks back to a famous episode in the team’s history:

The legacy of the Silver Arrows goes back to the 1934 Eifel Race when, on the evening before the event, the white paint was sanded off the Mercedes W25 race car to fulfil weight regulations (750kg formula) and the silver colour of the aluminium surface of the car appeared.

It’s a story that’s been repeated many times about the marque’s famous cars.

The problem is not everyone agrees it’s true. Historian Eberhard Reuss dug up several pieces of evidence that dispute the story in his 2006 book “Hitler’s Motor Racing Battles: The silver arrows under the swastika”, including these two:

On 18 January of that year [1934] their only available works drive, Manfred von Brauchistch, had already embarked on the first serious test-drives of the W25 in Italy: “During the winter months the engineers and mechanics had worked tirelessly to assemble a miraculous single-seater. I was selected to do the first test-runs of this dazzling silver machine.”

The paint-scraping account is a good story but it does sound more like myth than fact. What is not in doubt is that the pre- and post-war Mercedes were devastating machines which the opposition could not compete with – whatever colour they were painted.

If you’re interested in the early history of Mercedes and Auto Union racing cars, ??Hitler?s Motor Racing Battles?? is definitely worth a look.

Read more: Mercedes launch 2010 livery (Pictures)

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15 comments on Have Mercedes got their history wrong?

  1. CounterStrike said on 25th January 2010, 11:45

    I really love the Swastika symbol, too bad Hitler used it in wrong ways.

    Pity Merc had been been sidelined for 55 years. Surely they would have been the most dominant & successful team with more than 350 wins.

    Again the worst part is that all the attention is on Schumi & Brawn rather than merc.

    • Journeyer said on 25th January 2010, 12:38

      To be fair, I honestly think Schumi went to Brackley because of Brawn, not Merc. If Merc were there but Brawn wasn’t, Schumi would probably have stayed retired.

  2. “Hitler’s Motor Racing Battles” is definitely worth a look.

    2nd that!

  3. Bartholomew said on 25th January 2010, 13:31

    I think that 2012 rules should mandate F1 cars with a front mounted engine and no aerodinamics.
    This would improve the passing, and would be a fitting compliment to the legacy of Max Mosley, continued under the direction of nephew Todt.

    • And no seatbelts, of course – they didn’t have seatbelts in the old front-engined cars because it was deemed preferable to be thrown clear in an accident rather than crushed under the weight of the engine.

      • Ronman said on 25th January 2010, 14:51

        Yeah Seat belts are so old-school, Ejection seats would be more spectacular and improve the show. But it’s better if we don’t mention this to Bernie…

        • Racehound said on 27th January 2010, 11:44

          What happens if they hit the eject button while the car is upside down or rolling??? Would make a real big mess and possible spectator injuries could occur! #:) Now THAT really would liven up the show!!!! #:)

    • Not sure it would improve overtaking, apparently over taking was even less common then than now with grater gaps between cars or so I’ve heard.

    • Racehound said on 27th January 2010, 11:41

      We have that series already….its called Touring Car Racing !!! #:)

  4. Icthyes said on 25th January 2010, 14:31

    Godwin’s Law strikes again!

  5. 33turismo said on 25th January 2010, 15:52

    nobody mentioned blindfolds. Can we get FIA Regulation Blindfolds?

  6. I haven’t read the book or done any other research so this is all pretty out of context but that quote isn’t really proof that the car wasn’t white at the race. It just appears to state the car wasn’t painted at testing but even that looking at the quote could be questionable.

    It’s white on the program! (I’m saying that’s serious proof though).


    • CounterStrike said on 25th January 2010, 17:23

      That race was held exactly 2 months before Hitler too over Germany. Explains the absence of the swastika.

      Is it true that one of Hitler’s descendant works for Daimler-Benz?

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