Mercedes shows off ‘Brawny’ Schumacher

Mercedes GP launched their new Silver Arrow car this week, but the real firepower in the German team's camp is set to be the renewed partnership between Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn.

Mercedes shows off 'Brawny' Schumacher
Photo: DPA

Brawn was in Schumacher’s pits for all seven of his world title wins – two at Benetton and five at Ferrari – and Brawn’s involvement at Mercedes was a significant factor in enticing Schumacher back to Formula One.

Having retired in 2006, the 41-year-old Schumacher has broken his three-year hiatus to sign a contract to race for Mercedes which will reunite him with Brawn ahead of the new season starting in Bahrain on March 14.

Schumacher has made no secret of his desire to win an eighth world drivers’ championship title with Brawn as team principal at Mercedes and Nico Rosberg as his teammate.

“We have everything it takes to succeed, but it is one thing to have the correct ingredient and another to manage it,” he said. “With the experience of Ross and with all the know-how of Mercedes: I am sorry, but there can only be one target for us to achieve.”

Even though Schumacher retired after the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006, he stayed in touch with Brawn and the chance to work together again proved too strong.

“We have been in contact almost every year, when Ross went to Honda (in 2007 as team principal), he sort of suggested there was an option, but I wasn’t ready for it,” said Schumacher.

Brawn will be responsible for making sure the Silver Arrow car is in perfect condition when the season starts and the 55-year-old Briton said he is excited about the chance to work with Schumacher once again.

“Working with Michael again is a treat, it is something I didn’t think would happen again and it is something I am excited about,” said Brawn. “Nico is an exciting prospect and I think he will be good for Michael – it will also help him to see how a world champion operates.”

Mercedes face stiff opposition in their assault on the world drivers’ championship from McClaren’s Lewis Hamilton and current champion Jenson Button, as well as Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

“We are looking forward to closing the gap behind the other teams and we hope to have success in our cars, that is the aim,” said Schumacher. “It is rare to have two or three teams in close competition like last year, but this year might also be an exception again. It doesn’t really matter honestly: we are there to win whoever we are up against.”

And in terms of his advancing years, Schumacher says he has nothing to prove.

“I just want to prove to myself that I am still able to do it,” said the German. The main reason I am doing it is because of the thrill. I feel a huge sense of excitement just to drive and compete at the highest level.”

Having won five consecutive world titles with Ferrari, Schumacher says there will be no divided loyalties when the racing begins.

“There is quite a lot of my history and a part of my heart is (Ferrari) red and you can’t forget all the good moments we have had together,” he said. “I am really looking forward to seeing some of my friends who I worked with for so long. I am still friends with them, we can compete, but it doesn’t mean we have to forget what has happened in the past. It is still deep in my heart.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla’s giant Berlin car factory

In the green forest outside Berlin, a David and Goliath-style battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned "gigafactory".

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla's giant Berlin car factory
Tesla's gigafactory outside the doors of Berlin. dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I couldn’t believe it,” said Steffen Schorch, driving his trusty German-made car.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July.

“Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark – but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters – residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful
environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

READ MORE: Is Germany’s Volkswagen becoming ‘the new Tesla’ as it ramps up e-vehicle production?

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption – which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic metres a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region.

Tesla Street

“The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighbourhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s environment minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now”.

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares – equivalent to approximately 560 football fields – southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world”,
according to group boss Elon Musk.

In a little over a year and a half, swathes of coniferous forest have already been cleared to make way for vast concrete rectangles on a red earth base, accessed via the already iconic Tesla Strasse (Tesla Street).

German bureaucracy

The new site still has only provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk.

Final approval depends on an assessment of the project’s environmental impact – including the issue of water.

In theory, if approval is not granted, Tesla will have to dismantle the entire complex at its own expense.

But “pressure is being exerted (on the regulatory authorities), linked to Tesla’s significant investment”, Gruene Liga’s Michael Greschow told AFP.

In early April, Tesla said it was “irritated” by the slow pace of German bureaucracy, calling for exceptions to the rules for projects that help the environment.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier agreed in April that his government “had not done enough” to reduce bureaucracy, lauding the gigafactory as a “very important project”.

Despite Germany’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often held up by bureaucracy criticised as excessive by the business community.

Among the most embarrassing examples are Berlin’s new airport which opened last October after an eight-year delay and Stuttgart’s new train station, which has been under construction since 2010.

Brandenburg’s economy minister, Joerg Steinbach, raised the possibility in February that the Tesla factory could be delayed beyond its July planned opening for the same reason.

SEE ALSO: Tesla advertises over 300 jobs for new Gigafactory near Berlin