Mercedes, Hockenheim, 2019

Mercedes paint cars white for German Grand Prix

2019 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes have revealed a special white livery for this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

The team, whose parent company is also the title sponsor of the Hockenheim race, is commemorating 125 years of motorsport with a “commemorative livery” this weekend.

According to Mercedes, its original white colouring was removed in the 1930s in order to save weight. In press material sent out ahead of the German Grand Prix, Mercedes explained why the white paint was scraped off their cars at the 1934 Eifelrennen.

“The Eifelrennen, held on 3 June 1934 at the Nürburgring, was the first race in which the Mercedes-Benz W25 competed. The car was a newly designed race car for the 1934 Grand Prix season, which saw the introduction of a new set of regulations that limited the total weight of the car to 750 kilograms without fuel, oil, coolant, and tyres.

Apart from the maximum weight the regulations left a lot of room for innovation, not restricting the design of the car in any other way. The Mercedes-Benz W25 followed a classic vehicle architecture; the rear-wheel drive car was powered by a supercharged 3.4-litre in-line 8-cylinder engine that was mounted in the front and produced an output of 354 hp (260 kW).

“It was a mighty race car, but according to Silver Arrows legend there was one small issue with it: when the W25 was weighed the day before its first race, it was slightly above the weight limit of 750 kg. Allegedly, the team was able to bring the weight down to within regulatory limits by scraping off its white paint.

“Without the white paint, the metal bodywork of the car was exposed, giving it a silver look: the first Silver Arrow was born.”

Mercedes has also restored its heritage red numbering which was also used on its F1 from 2010 until last year.

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Pictures: Mercedes German Grand Prix livery

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Mercedes paint cars white for German Grand Prix”

  1. Looking forward to seeing pics of the whole livery. I already saw that the side pods are mostly the usual livery, with ‘tears’ where the white is still left on the silver ‘underground’, interesting to see how it looks on track.

    1. interesting to see how it looks on track.

      Blinding! Any trick to win, right? ;)

  2. Is it a white flag?

    1. Yes, but be aware that white german flags have other uses.

    2. georgeboole (@)
      25th July 2019, 18:30

      @peartree that’s what I thought too. But I guess the rest of the field will deploy white flags after the championship is over

  3. limited the total weight of the car to 750 kilograms without fuel, oil, coolant, and tyres

    I’m amused to see this, after all the discussion we’ve had about the current cars being overweight :)

    1. georgeboole (@)
      25th July 2019, 18:31

      @phylyp didn’t expect that to be honest. But still they were much much lighter than everything running on the streets at the time

    2. @phylyp, the strange thing is, the story about Mercedes supposedly scraping the paint off the cars was debunked several years ago – and the journalist who debunked the story used Mercedes’s own photographic and technical archives to prove that the story was false.

      In brief, stories about teams scraping paint off the cars to make them lighter had been a common myth in German motorsport for at least 20 years before the W25 was introduced, and the term “Silver Arrow” had in fact been in use for some streamlined Mercedes cars, which had used bare metal panels shaped around the car, for at least two years before the W25 was launched.

      Now, Mercedes’s own photographic archives from a test undertaken two months before that race show that the car was never painted to begin with, with the car sent out with bare metal bodywork – the contemporary publicity material that Mercedes released around that time also referred to the car as a “Silver Arrow”.

      A former mechanic has also testified that the car was always left with bare metal to begin with – it seems that initially Mercedes just didn’t bother painting the car to begin with, preferring to just get the car out there and begin testing it, but after a while they decided that it looked better and they then adopted it in their publicity material.

      What seems to have happened was there were a series of photographs that were taken at the time that were incorrectly processed, which made the car look like it was white when the prints were produced – this was confirmed when the original negatives in Mercedes’s archives were examined and the processing error was discovered. Now, given there was already a fairly common myth about scraping paint off cars to make them lighter, and given the fame of the W25, over time that particular myth became more strongly associated with the W25.

      Now, it seems that myth was repeated so often that eventually even some of Mercedes’s own staff began to believe it, with Alfred Neubauer – the former head of Mercedes’s motorsport team in the 1930s – adopting the story and including it in his autobiography in the 1950s.

      Neubauer was a particularly flamboyant character prone to considerable exaggeration – his autobiography has since been proven to contain multiple fake or highly embellished stories – but his fame helped to popularise and spread the myth for many years thereafter.

      It is a bit disappointing that Mercedes themselves, having helped disprove the story in the past, are now themselves helping to promote the legend – it’s similar to the way that the official Formula 1 site has itself promoted quite a few erroneous myths, such as promoting the lie that Alan Jones was serenaded on the podium with “Happy Birthday” when he won his first race with Shadow in the 1977 Austrian Grand Prix (he wasn’t – they played the Australian national anthem). I guess it is one of those cases were people seem to want to believe the myth instead, perhaps because the myth sounds more interesting than the truth.

  4. Is this part of the strategy to reduce heat within the car??

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      25th July 2019, 14:15

      Haha good one

  5. Apart from the maximum weight the regulations left a lot of room for innovation, not restricting the design of the car in any other way.

    I like these regulations – just saying.

  6. It amost feels like an exhibition for Mercedes, this season, and I’m all for it. Special liveries are cool and not something you see every year, but I’m afraid the car’s not going to be fully white. I’ve seen pictures of the sidepots and the engine covers and they were all painted in classic colors with irregular white stripes, giving impression of a fading or rather scattered effect from the cockpit towards the back of the back.

    1. *back of the car, sorry.

    2. Dang. It’d have been nice to see a white car with black signage, and maybe just a tinge of Petronas green .

    3. Seeing the additional pictures recently added, ugh – I don’t like the whole “scratched off paint” aesthetic. There’s forms of contact racing where such a design might work, I’m not a fan of it in F1.

      1. Anon A. Mouse
        26th July 2019, 0:54

        I think it would have looked better if the scheme was swapped: silver in the front, white in the back. It seems like, logically, they would have began from the front of the car and worked their way backwards. Currently looks like the silver was stripped away from the white.

  7. Why not just make the whole car white? This just looks a bit half-hearted. I would love to see the whole car white. I don’t think we’ve had a predominantly white car in F1 since HRT in 2012 (I’m not counting Alfa Romeo). I may be forgetting some.

    1. Michael Ward
      25th July 2019, 14:00

      umm… Williams while they were sponsored by Martini.

  8. That is so nearly a great livery…it just doesn’t quite work for me.

  9. Love it!!

    Great well to tell the story with paintwork :)

  10. Too bad the colour didn’t cover the whole car. Must have been expensive. Looks terrible.

  11. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    25th July 2019, 17:04

    Kinda disappointed actually – with it only being on the nose it looks a bit half done? I’d rather they’d repainted the whole thing.

  12. Andrew S. Mooney
    25th July 2019, 18:06

    …So it has nothing to do with the fact that Hockenheim is shaping up to be as hot as Austria, the track is as twisty as Austria, and at the Austrian Grand Prix, they performed dismally because the car overheated….And painting the upper surfaces white helps keep it cool?

  13. I’m sorry, but what a displeasing look to gaze. I don’t get why designers keep doing this sort of things. What’s wrong to properly honour a mark? Why it always has to be so flashy, tacky, overly garnished and stuff? What’s wrong of being elegant just one time, for a change?

    For a mark that evokes excellence, I don’t think it bodes well to conceive a look that brings up a dinosaur that went tearing everything up. What a poor taste!

  14. Looks sick to this guy, fantastic!

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