Gottleib Daimler and Karl Benz were two pioneer builders of motor cars. Nazi propaganda led the world to believe that they were the first makers of automobiles, but this is not the case. This fact may be surprising to Mercedes Benz enthusiasts who own popular models today. They were predated by various makers of steam-powered machines - an automobile is not defined by having an internal combustion engine, else why would Daimler-Benz have invested so heavily in fuel cell technology?
From 1900 on, Mercedes was the name under which Daimler sold cars. It was not until 1926 that the independent companies of Daimler and Benz completed protracted negotiations to merge and the marque and Mercedes-Benz, was formed. Prior to that, each company could look back on a history of motor racing involvement, a distinguished history so far as Mercedes was confirmed.
The new company was to enjoy success in motor racing with a series of brilliant sports cars (S, SS, SSK, SSKL) designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and, stripped of mudguards and headlights, they were also superb in grands prix racing, and mountain climbs.
By the end of 1930, the economic position in Germany was such that Mercedes-Benz cut back its competition programme to nearly nothing. When Hitler came to power, he realised that motor racing could be a powerful propaganda tool and his government offered a subsidy to a viable project. Two companies were successful, Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. The direct government subsidy amounted to no more than ten-per-cent of either team's budget, but the rest was more than made up by the award of lucrative military contracts.
Of the two, Mercedes-Benz was the most successful even though, in 1936, it got its car wrong and withdrew before the end of the season. Between them, however, the two German teams were responsible for a Golden (Silver?) Age of technical development.
After WW2, Germany was excluded from international motor sport until 1950. Besides, Daimler-Benz and Auto Union had other problems to deal with, such as a divided Germany and the rebuilding of shattered factories. In the board room of Daimler-Benz, however, the value of racing as a development exercise and publicity vehicle was seen as part of the strategy of rebirth. The question was not if the company would return but when, and the decision depended partly on the health of the company and partly on international politics.
In early 1951 Mercedes-Benz discreetly tested the water by sending a pair of 1939 3-litre supercharged W163s to Argentina to compete in a couple of Formula Libre races. Karl Kling and Hermann Lang finished second and third in both, on each occasion beaten by Gonzalez's blown 2-litre Ferrari. It gave the company a small indication of the strength of the opposition but, more importantly, there had been no outcry about their participation.
Soon afterwards the board of Daimler-Benz sanctioned a return to racing the following year with a sports car based on production components with a pukka GP effort to follow. Under the direction of that great engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, a team of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupes was built for racing in 1952 and they acquitted themselves well with the highlight being 1-2 at both Le Mans and in the Carrera Panamericana. This design was then retired, a production version was marketed, and a new F1 design was laid down for the start of the 2-litre formula.
A design team led by Uhlenhaut and Hans Scherenberg produced a car which commanded respect rather than excitement. No matter how much money and personnel a team has, success can never be guaranteed or else Ferrari would have won every race in the last thirty years, but Daimler-Benz's W196 was extremely successful, so all credit to it. The interesting thing remains that it was not copied. The reason for this is that it was a complete package of a sort which could only be compiled by a major manufacturer.
On July 4th, 1954, Mercedes-Benz returned to GP racing at Reims with three cars for Fangio, Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann - one star and two second-string drivers who happened to be German. Externally, the cars were sensational for they were clothed in gorgeous fully-enclosed aerodynamic bodies which were ideally suited to Reims which was a high speed triangle of long straights with tricky corners at the end of each straight. This body has struck a chord in the imagination though W196s did not race in this form many times and they were actually not that clever.
Mercedes-Benz scored a 1-2 on its return, but some observers noticed that the cars looked a handful on the tighter corners at Reims and wondered how much aerodynamics had contributed to the win. If the stromlinienwagen had been an advantage at Reims it was a handicap at Silverstone where the enclosed wheels made the car difficult to place in the corners and its handling was a problem. Fangio could finish no higher than fourth a lap down, and his car's battered bodywork told its own story. In the medium fast corners at Silverstone, the car would lurch from understeer to oversteer.
Mercedes-Benz covered that fact by claiming that the enveloping bodywork meant that Fangio had difficulty in placing his car in corners, and while they were spreading that story, they were busily making open-wheelers. Fangio, a sportsman, went along with the official line.
It was one of a whole string of occasions when the Mercedes-Benz PR machine put out a false story to preserve the image of Teutonic invincibility. At the very next race, Hermann Lang spun out of second place. The team blamed the driver, and the driver went along with the story, but film of the incident shows that the transmission locked up.
When the great prewar ace, Rudolf Caracciola, crashed his 300SL in Switzerland in 1952, a crash which finally ended his career, it was again officially driver error. Film of the crash reveals that a front wheel locked.
On the other hand, Fangio was rewarded with a Mercedes-Benz agency in Buenos Aires, Lang received a sinecure working for the Daimler-Benz Museum until the end of his days, and Caracciola was found a job demonstrating cars to NATO servicemen stationed in Germany. The company has always looked after its personnel, but its PR department has an appalling record of pedalling falsehoods.
Fangio succeeded in winning the World Championship in 1954 (he won the first two rounds in a Maserati 250F) and he was joined in the team the following year by Stirling Moss. Apart from an uncharacteristic spate of failures at the Monaco GP, Mercedes-Benz dominated the season and also won the World Sports Car Championship, with Moss winning the Mille Miglia, Tourist Trophy and Targa Florio.
Moss and Fangio were paired at Le Mans and held an easy lead when the team withdrew. One of its drivers, Pierre Bouillon, who raced under the nom-de-guerre, 'Pierre Levegh' had been involved in an accident not of his making. His car was launched into the crowd, killing the unfortunate 'Levegh' and more than 80 spectators.
The accident was set in motion by a misjudgement by Mike Hawthorn, and the carnage was so great because of the circuit's design, 'Levegh' and Mercedes-Benz were both blameless. The factory withdrew partly because it was horrified by the crash, partly because it felt that had it gone on to win, as it probably would have done, it would be a tarnished victory.
Work was proceeding on cars for 1956 when, on 22nd October, came the announcement that it was to withdraw from racing. Among the developments it had in the pipeline was four-wheel-drive.
After that, rumours of a return popped up every few years. Then, in the late 1980s, it returned to sports car racing through giving financial and technical support to Sauber. As part of its programme, it established a junior team to bring along talent of the order of Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger. In 1993 it supported Sauber's entry to Formula One and backed the team for two years, adding Keith Wiggins ill-fated Pacific GP team to its roster in 1994.
In 1995, Mercedes, which was keen to establish a relationship with a proven winning team, began a long and fruitful partnership with McLaren. In reality, the engines were built by Ilmor Engineering a British company established by Mario Illien and Paul Morgan in Northamptonshire in 1984, however, DaimlerChrysler provided technical input and funding.
The partnership went from strength to strength with McLaren-Mercedes cars winning the Drivers' Championship in 1998 and 1999 and the Constructors' Championship in 1998.
In 2002, following the death of Ilmor co-founder Paul Morgan a year earlier in a flying accident, DaimlerChrysler increased its shareholding to 55% and renamed the company Mercedes-Ilmor. Three years down the line DaimlerChrysler became the sole owner and promptly renamed the company Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines.
In addition to buying Ilmor, Daimler bought a 40 percent stake in McLaren however, while all appeared to be sweet and light on the outside by 2008 there was talk of all not being well between the two parties.
In 2009, for the first time since 1995, Mercedes supplied powerplants to outside teams with Force India and Brawn GP both keen to get their hands on what was reputed to be the best engine on the grid.
To the German manufacturer's frustration Brawn took both titles for to look at the un-branded cars the casual observers would be blissfully unaware of Mercedes involvement.
On November 16, two weeks after the conclusion of the 2009 season, and three months after McLaren and Mercedes celebrated their 250th Grand Prix as a partnership, Daimler and McLaren announced that they were bringing their business partnership to an end with the McLaren Group buying back the German manufacturer's 40 percent shareholding.
At the same time, Daimler AG announced that in partnership with Aabar Investments PJSC, a global investment company owned through a series of subsidiary companies by the Abu Dhabi Government, it would be taking over 75.1 per cent of the Brawn GP team. The remaining 24.9 percent of Brawn GP would remain with its original stakeholders who include Ross Brawn and Nick Fry.
"The background to this decision are the new terms and conditions for Formula 1," said Mercedes. "The Resource Restrictions set by FOTA and FIA effectively limit expenditure for the design, construction and running of the racing cars. In addition, there will be a significantly higher income available for a Formula 1 team generated by the commercial rights of the racing series following the signing of the new Concorde Agreement."
"Mercedes-Benz resumes its marvellous motor racing history on the 75th anniversary of the Silver Arrows, the world's most unique racing cars," the manufacturer was keen to point out. "Mercedes wants to continue the tradition in the style of these flawless Silver Arrows, which put their stamp on each era by winning the majority of the races they competed in."
Shortly after announcing the purchase of Brawn GP, Mercedes announced that it had signed Nico Rosberg, giving the Brackley outfit an even more Germanic look. However, the best was yet to come.
On December 23, as most of us wound down and prepared for the Christmas holiday, the team announced that it had persuaded seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher to come out of retirement, thereby reuniting the German with the company that brought him to F1 - Mercedes having paid for his Jordan drive back in 1991 - and the man (Ross Brawn) with whom he'd won all seven titles.
It had been an odd journey, one that began in Germany well over a hundred years ago and includes some of the greatest names in motorsport history. As we looked ahead to 2010, salivating at the thought of the line-up - Mercedes, Brawn, Schumacher and Rosberg - we all wondered if they might conjure up more of the Silver Arrows magic, especially in the wake of Brawn's own fairytale. Sadly, the season proved to be something of a nightmare for all concerned.
While Brawn had secured both titles in 2009, many appear to have forgotten how the team dropped off towards the end of the season. As money ran out, development dropped off, not to mention the fact that the team needed to 'lose' around 40 percent of its workforce. Whereas, certainly in the first half of 2009, Brawn led the way, for Mercedes much of 2010 was about catch-up.
Initially, the car showed a respectable pace, though it was no real match for the McLaren and Red Bull. In the latter half of the season however, the team, having now been surpassed by Ferrari, was now under intense pressure from Renault.
In addition to the fact that that the short gearbox - certainly when compared to those on the McLaren, Renault and Ferrari - didn't fully exploit the benefit of the double diffuser, the team was off the ball when it came to the F-duct, the blown diffuser and even its engine cover.
At times, the team appeared lost, witness the decision to introduce a longer wheelbase car at Barcelona, while the blown diffuser, introduced at Valencia, was then scrapped before being reintroduced.
Overall, the W01 was good on circuits with slow and medium speed corners but lost out in high speed corners due to its lack of downforce.
In terms of its drivers, Rosberg continued to impress, the German totally unruffled by his superstar teammate. Schumacher, on the other hand, was disappointing.
While some of his performances, by other drivers' standards, would have been seen as excellent, certainly when one considers the equipment at his disposal, by his lofty standards they were relatively lacklustre. That said, the German, who certainly improved as the season progressed, appeared far more relaxed than during his hey day. Indeed, one could say that despite the lack of results he really enjoyed himself.
In his favour, the lack of testing, regulation changes, the characteristics of the Bridgestones and the weaknesses of the W01 made things difficult for the seven-time champion, but one has to wonder why Rosberg did such a clearly better job.
While the podium finishes in Malaysia, China and Britain were clear indication of the Nico's talent, let's not forget that other than out-qualifying Schumacher 14 times, the youngster was surely destined for a second place in Korea until he encountered Mark Webber's Red Bull. Certainly, despite claims in the media that he would be seen off by Schumacher, Nico got on with his job, never rising to the bait certain sections of the media were throwing in his direction.
Though Mercedes didn't take that all important step forward in 2011, it didn't slip back either and remained a fairly comfortable fourth best. That said, the team scored significantly fewer points than in its maiden season and failed to secure a single podium finish.
With the MGP WO2, Ross Brawn and the team opted for a short wheelbase car. However, the Englishman subsequently admitted that this had not proved as advantageous as originally thought. While Mercedes KERS system once again proved to be one of the best out there, the team struggled to get to grips with the new exhaust technologies, it also had problems with the new Pirelli rubber, the German car proving to be extremely hard on its tyres.
With pre-season testing suggesting that the Brackley team was not going to be troubling the three pace-setters, the season got off to a less than auspicious start in Melbourne when both drivers retired with accident damage.
Schumacher scored the team's first points of the season in Malaysia, with teammate Rosberg finishing a distant twelfth. However, in China the youngster finished a convincing fifth and his teammate eighth, Rosberg having led the race at one stage.
In Turkey, Rosberg qualified a superb third, bringing the WO2 home in fifth next day. In Canada, Schumacher equalled his best finish for the team, finishing fourth after running as high as second, while in Valencia, Rosberg finished seventh, and Schumacher seventeenth after contact with Vitaly Petrov.
Having attracted criticism in 2010, Schumacher gave a far better account of himself in 2011. Though Rosberg continued to have the better of him in qualifying, the seven-time champ looked more like his old self on Sunday afternoons. Indeed, as he fought various battles over the course of the season - most notably Lewis Hamilton at Monza - he appeared to be having the time of his life.
In Belgium, where he celebrated twenty years since his first F1 start, Schumacher was forced to start from the back of the grid after losing a wheel in qualifying. However, a typically determined performance on his favourite track, not to mention the opening lap of the season, saw the German finish a convincing fifth.
Reliability was excellent with the team only suffering two retirements - air box fire in Monaco and gearbox failure in Hungary, both for Schumacher - as the drivers continued to mop up the points not taken by Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. Top speed was amongst the best out there, while the pit crew is widely considered to be amongst the best - and quickest - in the business.
Over the course of the season, both drivers finished in the points on eight occasions, yet while the German team was never under threat from Lotus Renault GP or Force India, so too the Silver Arrows will not have kept the leading trio awake at night.
The recruitment of Bob Bell, Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis demonstrated that Mercedes most definitely meant business as it looked ahead to 2012. Ex-Ferrari man Costa was to head the aerodynamic department while ex Red Bull and Hispania man Willis would look after the mechanical side. Both men would report to the new technical director, ex Renault man Bob Bell.
It's difficult to know how best to describe the team's 2012 season. On the one hand Nico Rosberg gave the German outfit its first win since Monza 1955, however, on the other hand the team appeared to have taken one step forward and two back.
That it failed to score a single point in five successive races at the end of the season, losing out to Lotus and under pressure from Sauber, just about says it all, and one wonders how the suits in Stuttgart must be feeling.
Having seemingly conquered the problem with overheating tyres that first appeared in pre-season testing, the German outfit was completely mystified when the problem reappeared later in the year. Then there was the questionable merit of it much trumpeted double DRS device.
Both drivers did the best they could, under the circumstances, Rosberg taking a well deserved win in China, thereby making him the first German driver to win a Grand Prix driving a German car since Hermann Lang's victory at the 1939 Swiss Grand Prix. However, following the Shanghai victory, other than a podium in Monaco, it was lean pickings for the youngster.
That said, while there those couple of excellent performances, one should not forget that Schumacher gave him a run for his money, out-qualifying him 10 times and taking pole at Monaco. Indeed, for much of the season it was the veteran who appeared to have the fire in his belly, even if he continued to get involved in controversial incidents.
In late September, after weeks of rumour and denial, it was finally confirmed that Lewis Hamilton was to join the Brackley-based outfit, the Englishman leaving the comfort zone of the McLaren 'family'.
Losing fourth to Lotus in 2012 was bad enough however, another uncompetitive season, especially in light of the money being spent, was not likely to go down well in Stuttgart, and having dumped Norbert Haug it was not impossible that Brawn would be told to fall on his sword. Then again, in having Hamilton as his teammate, Rosberg would also have to up his game.
Ahead of the 2013 season we warned that it could be a make or break year for the Brackley outfit, for we were already hearing through the grapevine that Stuttgart was under pressure to justify the spending.
Ahead of the start of the season the team announced that Toto Wolff had joined as shareholder and executive director, while Lauda's new role was to be chairman of Mercedes-Benz Grand-Prix Ltd. With Wolff retaining his financial interest in Williams, there was much confusion in the F1 paddock.
Despite a much publicised crash on one of his first outings for the team, Hamilton settled in well, scoring points on his debut whilst teammate Rosberg retired with an electrical issue.
The team slowly built up momentum on race day however, it was in qualifying where it really impressed taking 8 poles between China and Belgium. That said, with only three of those poles converted into race wins the team was fully aware that while single lap race pace was excellent it was badly losing out over race distances. Not for the first time it was the four black round things that were hurting the Brackley team.
As it struggled to overcome heating and degradation issues, the team became embroiled in one of those scandals that appears in Formula One with alarming predictability. Over the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix it was revealed that Mercedes had taken part in a 'secret' test with Pirelli at Barcelona, a scandal that was to be called 'Testgate'.
Despite the furore that ensued, Mercedes walked away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, the German team merely excluded from the mid-summer Young Driver Test. While some say that this still hurt the team, the subsequent changes to the compounds did the real damage allowing Vettel and Red Bull to cruise to the titles.
Other than Testgate the German team continued to make the headlines for events away from the track, most notably the recruitment of Paddy Lowe from McLaren, a move which immediately put the future of Ross Brawn in the spotlight.
As expected, the driver pairing seemed well matched indeed, Rosberg's pace suggested that those who had rubbished Michael Schumacher's performances over the previous couple of seasons may have jumped the gun.
Dutifully obeying when told not to overtake his teammate in Malaysia - unlike some - Rosberg went on to show his true class in Monaco, leading every lap and taking an emotional victory in the Principality where he has spent much of his life. His win at Silverstone was a little more fortuitous while he impressed in India. Finishing the season sixth overall, on that basis it was the German's best year since entering F1 in 2006.
Surprisingly, though the first podium came in Malaysia and the first pole position in China, it was not until Hungary that Hamilton scored his first victory. Ironically, this came at just the time Red Bull finally got to grips with its tyres and headed off into the sunset.
At Monaco, where teammate Rosberg scored a lights-to-flag victory, having out-qualified him for three successive races, Hamilton admitted that he was struggling to control the car under braking. Indeed, the 2009 champion was noticeably vocal about various aspects of the car (and tyres) for much of the season.
Despite a strong mid-season sequence, including that maiden win for Mercedes, it was Rosberg who had the better run-in to the climax of the year, though Hamilton was able to claim fourth in the championship for the third time in his career.
As expected, at the end of the year Brawn parted company with the team, the Englishman's role being shared by Wolff (Executive Director Business) and Lowe (Executive Director Technical). While Hamilton suggested that Brawn's departure wouldn't damage the team, Lauda insisted that it left a "big hole".
Weeks later the team announced two further signings, Mark Ellis joining as Performance Director (in June 2014) and Giles Wood as Chief Engineer, Simulation and Development, both men poached from Milton Keynes.
Almost from the outset, it was clear Mercedes, certainly in terms of power units, had done the best job in interpreting the sweeping new regulations, the biggest in the sport's history. The German manufacturer's engines led the way not only in terms of pace but also reliability.
Indeed, from the outset of the season in Melbourne, where the team scored the first of its 16 wins, it was clear that the German outfit was going to be the one to beat.
That said, Melbourne also gave us the first proof that the F1 W05 Hybrid wasn’t bulletproof, Hamilton suffering an engine failure just three laps into the race.
For the most part however, the car indeed, the team, was untouchable, the only threat being the aforesaid reliability and the feud that was to develop between the two drivers as the season progressed and the pressure mounted.
Despite some silliness along the way, most notably Spa, the bitterness between the two drivers was verbal and much of it driven by a media delighting in the possibility of a repeat of the legendary Prost/Senna feud.
The fact that it set numerous records, including most poles, most wins, most front row lockouts and most 1-2 finishes, means that many rightly regard the F1 W05 Hybrid as the best F1 car of all time, eclipsing McLaren's 1988 contender, the MP4-4, which was to win all but one race. Be that as it may, the 2014 Mercedes was certainly the class of the 2014 field and almost unbeatable.
Whilst much of that dominance was said to be a result of the fact that the compressor and turbo were packaged at opposite ends of the internal combustion engine, thereby giving an edge in packaging, aerodynamic efficiency, and battery usage, fact is, the team also had two drivers at the top of their game.
Though Hamilton and Rosberg went into the final round with the title up for grabs - the German ultimately deprived by a reliability issue, thereby seeing the team bookend the season with technical issues - it was only right that with eleven wins the Briton took the title.
With precious few rule changes for 2015 and both drivers retained we expected another strong showing from the German team, however, if 2014 was a tour-de-force, in 2015 the bar was raised even higher.
With little to worry about in terms of power or speed, the team focussed on reliability, and the fact that the silver cars completed 96.6% of the season's racing laps, and suffered only two DNFs, is clear proof that the Brackley outfit got that sorted also.
The numerous records established in 2014 were soon broken, not least twelve 1-2s, thirty-one podium finishes and 86% of all laps led.
Indeed, the only area where the team continued to struggle was in terms of strategy, most notably Monaco, where a late call to pit Hamilton cost the Briton the race.
For his part, Hamilton was sublime for almost the entire season. Having learned his lesson in 2014 he improved his qualifying performances, thus giving himself a little less work to do on Sundays. He also continued to let his teammate know - both on and off track - who was boss, though at times this went a little too far.
With Renault failing to make any improvements over the off-season, thankfully Ferrari had got its act together, certainly engine-wise, and for much of the year it was clear that, despite its dominance, Mercedes was concerned at the increasing threat from Maranello.
Other than Monaco, the other hugely disappointing race was Singapore, where the team appeared to fall apart from the opening practice session. OK, Hungary had also seen both drivers fail to make it to the podium, mostly due to their own errors, but Singapore was another matter entirely.
Whatever the reason for the Singapore slip - and most point to the tyre pressure legality issues of the previous race - the Mercedes steamroller was back on track in Japan, going on to wrap up consecutive drivers' and team titles ahead of the final race.
In the final races of the season, the impetus appeared to be with Rosberg, the German taking six consecutive poles and winning the final three races.
Whether this was due to Hamilton 'easing off' having secured the title in Austin or whether Rosberg had finally found new reserves is a question that led us tantalisingly into 2016.
In asserting himself as 'number one', Hamilton had made it clear that he was unwilling to take prisoners, and his aggression in terms of his teammate, and even his public questioning of strategy, didn't go down well with everyone. That said, he had given the German team back-to-back titles and shown a consistency most others could only dream of.
Both drivers were retained however, with Toto Wolff admitting that some of the 2015 feuding had caused problems within the team there was speculation as to whether Rosberg - in the final year of his contract - would be retained or whether the German team might sensationally drop Hamilton.
With no major rule changes for 2016 few were betting against another season of silver superiority, though Ferrari appeared to be preparing a serious assault. Indeed, based on its 2015 performance little was expected of Red Bull, leaving the Maranello outfit as the only potential challenge to another year of three-pointed star domination.
Fact is, not only did Ferrari fail to close the gap, the gap widened and instead we had to rely on the Tag-Heuer powered Red Bulls to mount the only threat.
Consequently, while the German team enjoyed a 275 point advantage over the runner-up in 2015, a year later the points difference was up to 297.
To put it another way, but for the silliness on the opening lap in Spain and Hamilton's engine failure in Malaysia, Mercedes would have won all 21 races. Instead the Brackley outfit had to console itself with 'just' 19 wins and 20 pole positions.
While for much of the season there was no serious threat from other teams, the rivalry between Rosberg and Hamilton often bordered on outright hostility. While the needless incident in Spain got the headlines, let's not forget Austria and ultimately Abu Dhabi.
Having won the final races of 2015, Rosberg's impressive streak continued into 2016, so much so that after four round he enjoyed a 43 point advantage. After the silliness of Spain however, Hamilton put together a string of six wins from seven races, advantage Lewis.
Earlier in the season the Briton had suffered a number of failures, leading to the inevitable criticism of his team. With Hamilton not exactly helping the situation the team was forced to publicly address fans' concerns, insisting there was no bias.
Throughout the season the championship pendulum would swing one way then the other, and ultimately one cannot help but feel that those early failures took their toll on Hamilton's chances.
However, this should take nothing away from Rosberg, who drove faultlessly pretty much all season. OK, there were times he took his eye off the ball, and Austria was downright dumb, but in Singapore he was sublime, it was the weekend of a champion.
Such domination wasn't good for (F1) business however, and while Bernie tried to derail the German team with his new qualifying format, for once the fans got their way.
Despite the obvious advantage, Mercedes continued to update the car, and only once the constructors' title was wrapped-up did the team ease off and switch full attention to 2017.
Despite Hamilton's best efforts, especially in the season finale, Rosberg won the title, then promptly retired in one of the biggest shocks to the sport of recent years.
In the end of season podcast, editor Balfe suggested that one of the reasons for the German's surprise announcement might have been his unwillingness to put himself through another season of Hamilton hostility.
While Mercedes did its best to maintain the status quo and not have a clear number one, at times this policy, though admirable, appeared to hurt the team like a wound festering beneath the skin. There is talk that Hamilton was close to retiring from the sport after Spain, while he has publicly said there was more to the decision to swap key members of crew than meets the eye.
Mercedes mighty PR machine denies all this - as it has to - but one cannot help feel that ultimately the in-fighting took its toll.
Going into 2017, Mercedes had totally dominated the new formula only losing 8 of the 59 races contested under the hybrid rules.
Whether this domination would continue under the new aero regulations in 2017, not to mention Rosberg's departure, remained to be seen, but the fact is that the German team rose magnificently to the challenge of the new formula, aided and abetted by one of the strongest driver pairings.
On January 16, six weeks after Rosberg's bombshell, Mercedes finally confirmed Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton's teammate. Among the usual B.S. Bingo platitudes from the various parties, Niki Lauda made it clear that it was the team's intention to allow the pair to fight one another.
At the time we wrote: "While we've yet to see Bottas lose his cool, it should be interesting to see how he handles the three-time champ who is going to fight his corner in his territory like an alley cat. Interesting times ahead, and possibly a few sleepless night for team PR guru Bradley Lord."
While the team and Hamilton still came out top in 2017 it's fair to say both had to work that much harder. Indeed, while in 2014 and 2015 they lost out on three occasions, finishing runner-up just twice in 2016, 2017 saw Red Bull and Ferrari takes eight wins between them.
From the beginning of pre-season testing, while the car still had reliability, there were questions marks over pace, especially as Ferrari had clearly taken a step forward.
Then there was the length of the car which led to Hamilton comparing it to a boat, though this was nothing compared to Toto Wolff's claim that the W08 was a "diva".
While the Mariah Carey issues may have continued throughout the year, a major update to the nose, front wing and barge boards in Spain made a world of difference henceforth.
Just as the W08 had good weekends and bad weekends, depending on track characteristics and weather, so the drivers' form appeared to fluctuate.
A frustrating weekend for Hamilton in Russia allowed Bottas to flourish and take his first win, as the Silver Arrows sought to keep Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel in check.
However, in the second half of the season, Hamilton was on peak form and - combined with a series of issues for Vettel and Ferrari, not to mention Mercedes aggressive upgrade programme - the Briton took the lead in the championship and never relinquished it.
While one has to wonder why Hamilton still harbours a certain amount of ill-will in terms of his former teammate, it was clear that he, and thereby the team, was all the better following Rosberg's retirement. Though the German would no doubt have given Hamilton a stronger challenge, the improved atmosphere on the Briton's side of the garage appeared infectious.
Though Bottas had a strong start to the season, after the summer break, having now secured another one-year deal, his performances were disappointing. Indeed, there was no bigger critic of the Finn's performances than the man himself. However, a late revival saw a string of three podium finishes including his third win of the season.
While clearly under threat on Sundays, for the most part Saturday's qualifying sessions were the domain of the Stuttgart outfit, Hamilton and Bottas aided and abetted by Brackley's version of Nigel Tufnell's '11'.
However, the fact is that Ferrari and Hamilton gave Mercedes a real scare in 2017 and but for the errors of the German and his team things could have been entirely different.
Likewise Red Bull, where the issues with the Renault power unit that so frustrated Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, served to confirm why Mercedes (and Ferrari) could never seriously contemplate handing their engines over to the Austrian outfit.
Malaysia - where Verstappen left Hamilton for dead - Mexico and Brazil were late-season warnings that no matter though it may have appeared to be 'business as usual', Mercedes was under pressure and would need to draw on all its resources if it was to claim its fifth successive titles.
That said, in spite of everything, 2017 witnessed further titles for Hamilton and Mercedes, furthermore, unlike Ferrari and Red Bull, Mercedes had continued its domination despite a major change to the regulations. Whether this would continue in 2018 depended not only on whether the German team could maintain its superiority but whether its rivals could raise their game.
Out of contract at the end of 2018, other than 'doing a Rosberg' and heading off to early retirement maybe spending his time on an online casino, it was unlikely that Hamilton would be looking to move elsewhere. On the other hand, Bottas had to raise his game significantly, and continue to do so, if he was to be retained for a third season, especially at a time so many other drivers were likely to be on the market.
Over the years, Tot Wolff has persisted in portraying Mercedes as the underdog - or about to be underdog - to an infuriating degree, insisting that despite four consecutive titles the German team's reign was under serious threat. Despite the fact the 2018 season witnessed his team take both titles once again, having won 75% of the races held under the hybrid formula, there were times when it really did appear that for once Mercedes was going to be toppled.
However, courtesy of sterling work by the team, the brilliance of Lewis Hamilton, the endless mistakes from Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's determination to shoot itself in the foot, the Silver Arrows prevailed.
With Hamilton taking pole in Melbourne by 0.6s it really did appear to be business as usual, but a strategic error when it mattered - on Sunday - allowed Vettel to get his season off to the ideal start for the second successive year.
With Vettel holding off Bottas in Bahrain, and Ricciardo winning in China, the season was four races old before a Silver Arrows driver finally stood atop the podium, Hamilton benefitting from his teammate's appalling bad luck after the Finn ran over a piece of debris while leading the race. Two weeks later, the pair gave the team its first 1-2 of the season, the first of four over the course of the year.
While Ferrari struck back in Monaco and Canada, it was in Austria where the wheels really appeared to be falling from the Mercedes steamroller, with both drivers retiring having locked-out the front row, Bottas suffering a hydraulics failure after 13 laps and Hamilton losing fuel pressure after 62.
Little-by-little Ferrari and Vettel appeared to have the edge, but Mercedes was in no mood to throw the towel in, even though the W09 showed some of the 'Diva-like' attitude of its predecessors and the team continued to make a number of questionable strategic decisions.
While Austria was the low point, Hamilton being beaten on his home ground by Vettel was equally galling, and yet two weeks later, in Germany, fate conspired to turn things around.
While leading the race, Vettel went off in light drizzle, the German hammering his steering wheel in the aftermath in obvious frustration. This, of course, allowed Hamilton to repay him for Silverstone, the Briton standing proudly atop the Hockenheim podium.
In Belgium, Ferrari beat Mercedes fair and square, the Maranello team looking as though it finally had the best package, its latest upgrade also powering Haas and Sauber up the grid.
However, other than a wrong-turn in terms of development, the Italian team was also subsequently compromised by a series of mistakes by Vettel and some woeful strategy calls.
In Italy, where Vettel made a pointless move on Hamilton at the second chicane, the Briton began a run of four victories. Though Raikkonen won in Austin, by the next race (Mexico), Hamilton was able to secure the title.
Demoralised after being told to move aside for his teammate in Russia, Bottas had a poor end of season, subsequently admitting that it was his worst year ever in F1.
Nonetheless, the team had secured both titles for the fifth successive season, thereby equalling a feat only Ferrari has previously achieved.
While Ferrari was under suspicion for its dual battery set-up, so too a rear wheel upgrade from the German team led to murmuring and the intervention of the FIA. While the Italian team was repeatedly given the all-clear, Mercedes was eventually forced to adapt the spacers that were giving the Maranello outfit cause for concern.
2017 and 2018 clearly showed that Mercedes is under threat, and while Hamilton, along with the team's consistency and determination, saw off the Ferrari challenge, it will surely be put to the test again in 2019 not only by Ferrari but possibly by the new Red Bull-Honda alliance.
Indeed, with Mercedes and Ferrari updating their cars until the end of the season, the early stages of 2019 could swing in Red Bull’s favour, assuming Honda provides a strong enough unit.