Silver Arrows

Silver Arrows (German: Silberpfeil) was the name given by the press to Germany's dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union Grand Prix motor racing cars between 1934 and 1939. The name was later applied to the Mercedes-Benz Formula One and sports cars in 1954 and 1955, and currently applied to the Mercedes GP/AMG Petronas F1 cars from 2010 to present.

For decades until the introduction of sponsorship liveries, each country had its traditional colour in automobile racing. German race cars for their Silver Arrows silver, Italian for their Rosso Corsa red, British ones are British racing green green, French Bleu de France blue, etc.

German cars like the Blitzen Benz were white, as were the three Mercedes that won the 1914 French Grand Prix 1-2-3. On the other hand, Mercedes won the Italian Targa Florio with cars painted red in 1922 (Giulio Masetti) and 1924 (Christian Werner), blending in with the local competitors. The big supercharged 200 hp Mercedes-Benz SSKL with which Rudolf Caracciola won the 1931 Mille Miglia was called the White Elephant.

Silberpfeil-W25 1934 Rueckansicht
1934 Mercedes-Benz W25 Silberpfeil
1937 Mercedes-Benz W 125
Goodwood2007-010 Autounion & Mercedes Silberpfeile
1937 Autounion & Mercedes Silberpfeile

Origin of the name

In 1958, Alfred Neubauer described the origin of the Silver Arrows as being accidental. In 1934 the international governing body of motor sport prescribed a maximum weight limit of 750 kg for Grand Prix racing cars, excluding tyres and fuel. Neubauer said that when in spring 1934, the Mercedes-Benz team placed its new Mercedes-Benz W25 on the scrutineering scales prior to the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, it allegedly recorded 751 kg (1,656 lb). Racing manager Alfred Neubauer and his driver Manfred von Brauchitsch, who both later published their memoirs, claimed that they had the idea of removing all the white lead-based paint from the bodywork. The story continues that the next day the shining silver aluminium beneath was exposed and scrutineering was passed. After the 350 hp (260 kW) car of Von Brauchitsch won the race, the nickname Silver Arrow was born, according to this version.

L'evoluzione dell'automobile Mercedes Silver Arrow W196 F-1
Mercedes Silver Arrow W196

There is however, controversy and doubt regarding this story. It did not appear until 1958, and no reference to it has been found in contemporary sources. It has since been established that von Brauchitsch had raced a streamlined silver SSKL on the AVUS in 1932, which was called a Silver Arrow in live radio coverage. Also, in 1934, both Mercedes and Auto Union had entered the Avusrennen with silver cars. The next big event was the 1934 Eifelrennen, but as few cars complying to the new rules were ready, it was held for Formule Libre, so weight was still not a race-critical issue at that time.[1] By the 1930s, modern stressed-skin aircraft fuselage construction was already using polished and unpainted aluminium panels for streamlining and to save weight. Also the wealthy motor-racing fraternity would have been aware that in heraldry, white and silver are the same colour, or 'tincture', described as 'Argent'; (similarly yellow and gold are both called 'Or').

Neubauer's 1958 autobiography has been shown to include several embellished stories and dubious claims, including a fabricated hoax surrounding the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix, where he falsely accused several drivers of "fixing" the race.[2]


By 1937, the supercharged engine of a Mercedes-Benz W125 attained an output of 646 hp (475 kW), a figure not greatly exceeded in Grand Prix Racing until the early 1980s, when turbo-charged engines were common in Formula One - although it was at least matched as early as the late 1940s by conventionally fuelled Grand Prix engines like the BRM V16, despite the rules restricting later engines to half the cylinder capacity.

The Silver Arrows of Mercedes and Auto Union cars reached speeds of well over 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) in 1937, and well over 400 km/h (249 mph) during land speed record runs.

The superiority of these vehicles in international motor racing established the term "Silver Arrow" as a legend, for example by usually winning the first race in which they were entered. The names Rudolf Caracciola, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hermann Lang, and later Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, will always be associated with the eras of these racing cars.

Mercedes-Benz recalled its great past in the 1970s with rallye cars, and in the 1980s with the Sauber sportscars as well as the DTM touring cars, and also the multiple race winning Mercedes AMG F1 cars from 2010 onward.

Other car companies

1971-05-29 Vic Elford, Porsche 908-3 (Hatzenbach)
Porsche 908 in silver colour Martini Racing

Now a traditional colour for road-cars in reference to the Silver Arrows, most German car companies have a shade of silver in their catalogues conforming to Silberpfeil-Grau, or Silver Arrow Grey.

However, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are not the only German car companies who paint their cars in a silver colour. Porsche has also inherited the tradition of silver arrows. But the BMW company still paints its cars in the traditional white colour.

At the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours, a total of seven "Silver Arrows" were entered in the Le Mans Prototype class:

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (2010–present)

In 2010, with the formation of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Mercedes-Benz returned to Grand Prix racing as a constructor. Mercedes' cars have been nicknamed "Silver Arrows" by the press and by the team itself.[3] The modern cars race with the majority of their bodies painted in a traditional silver shade, trimmed in Petronas green.

In 2010, team principal Ross Brawn introduced the team's first car, the Mercedes MGP W01, as the new Silver Arrow, with Germans Nico Rosberg and 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher driving the car. In 2012, Rosberg drove the Mercedes F1 W03 to victory at the Chinese Grand Prix to claim Mercedes' first victory in Formula One since 1955.

Mercedes' 2014 Formula One car, the Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid (with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg) began one of the more dominant periods by a constructor in the sport's history. The Silver Arrows won (and led every lap of) the first seven races of the 2014 season, only falling due to a KERS failure on both cars in the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix. Overall, the cars achieved 18 pole positions, 16 wins and eleven 1-2 finishes in the 19-race season. Mercedes won the 2014 Formula One Constructors' Championship (their first) while Hamilton won the 2014 Drivers' Championship.

Rosberg Hamilton - 2016 Monaco GP 2
The two Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrids, with driver Nico Rosberg leading teammate Lewis Hamilton in Monaco 2016
FIA F1 Austria 2018 Nr. 44 Hamilton
The Silver Arrows have won five consecutive Constructors' Championships. Pictured is the W09 EQ Power+, the car entered in 2018.

In the 2015 season, the W06 Hybrid continued Mercedes' dominance of the turbo-charged hybrid-engine era, attaining 18 pole positions and 16 wins along with twelve 1-2 finishes. Mercedes achieved 23 consecutive pole positions from the 2014 British Grand Prix to the 2015 Italian Grand Prix. Both cars finished on the podium in each event in 2015 with the exception of the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix. The race marked the first time both cars were left off the podium since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix. On 11 October 2015 at the Russian Grand Prix, Mercedes won their second consecutive Constructors' Championship. Later that year Lewis Hamilton won his third Drivers' Championship and his second consecutive championship with Mercedes.

In the 2016 season with the W07 Hybrid, Mercedes won the Constructors' Championship for the third consecutive season. The team amassed a total of 20 pole positions and 14 front-row lockouts for the season. They won 19 of the 21 races held with eight 1-2 finishes and finished the year with 765 points (297 points ahead of the second place constructor Red Bull).[4] Nico Rosberg won his first and only Drivers' Championship, finishing five points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg announced his retirement five days after winning the title.[5]

Former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas joined Hamilton for the 2017 season as drivers of the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+. In most of the early races, Mercedes was strongly challenged, and at times beaten, by the much-improved Ferrari team's SF70H car. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel led the Drivers' Championship for most of the season. Ultimately Mercedes' strong second half of the season earned them their fourth consecutive Constructors' Championship while Hamilton won his fourth Drivers' Championship. The 2017 Silver Arrows took 15 pole positions, 12 wins and four 1–2 finishes in the 20 races held.

During most of the 2018 season, Mercedes was again strongly challenged by Ferrari (SF71H) and at times, Red Bull's RB14. Through the first half of the season, the three teams were virtually sharing victories. Ferrari had four wins, while Mercedes and Red Bull each had three wins after 10 races. Mercedes trailed Ferrari by 20 points after the 2018 British Grand Prix. Once again (this year with the W09 EQ Power+) Mercedes put together a very successful second half of the season to claim their fifth consecutive Constructors' Championship. Hamilton won his fifth Drivers' Championship, his fourth with Mercedes in the previous five years. Overall the team won 11 of the 21 races, with four 1-2 finishes and 13 poles.


  1. ^ [1], "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2010-03-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) and [2] (accessed on 10 March 2010)
  2. ^ Martin Williamson. "The race that was rigged?". F1 Rewind. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Mercedes AMG Petronas - Silver Arrows". AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  4. ^ "2016 Constructors Standings". Formula One World Championship Limited. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Nico Rosberg retires: World champion quits Formula 1". BBC. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.

Further reading

  • Chris Nixon, Racing the Silver Arrows: Mercedes-Benz versus Auto Union 1934-1939 (Osprey, London, 1986) pp. 30–37, 164-168

External links

1934 French Grand Prix

The 1934 French Grand Prix (formally the XXVIII Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France) was a Grand Prix motor race held on 1 July 1934 at Montlhéry. The race comprised 40 laps of a 12.5 km circuit, for a total race distance of 500.0 km. This race was the first outside of Germany to see the Silver Arrows of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz, which would go on to dominate Grand Prix racing until the start of World War II.

The race was won by Louis Chiron driving an Alfa Romeo. Chiron lead from the start, jumping the start to lead the first lap, but was quickly challenged by the Germans. Stuck, who made a poor start, was able to take the lead on lap 3, while down the field the Mercedes' and other Alfa Romeos and Auto Unions battled for the remaining places, while the Bugattis and Maseratis showed themselves to be totally outclassed. With Stuck's Auto Union slowing, Chiron retook the lead on lap 9. This he held to the end, as although he was pressured by the Mercedes of Fagioli and Caracciola, this ultimately came to nothing, as by the end of the race not a single German car was still running.

Alfred Neubauer

Alfred Neubauer (29 March 1891 in Neutitschein – 22 August 1980 in Stuttgart) was the racing manager of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team from 1926 to 1955.

American football Regionalliga

The American football Regionalliga is the third tier of American football in Germany, below the German Football League and the German Football League 2.The league is subdivided into five regional divisions, the Regionalligas (English: Regional league) Nord (North), Ost (East), West, Mitte (Central) and Süd (South).

Audi Rosemeyer

The Audi Rosemeyer is a concept car built by Audi, shown initially at Autostadt and at various auto shows throughout Europe during 2000. Although it was never intended for production, its striking design and highly sporting nature drew considerable attention to the brand, and many potential buyers highly anticipated a production version, to no avail.

August Momberger

August "Bubi" Momberger (26 June 1905 – 22 December 1969) was a German racing driver and engineer, who competed in Grand Prix motor racing events for various manufacturers between 1926 and 1934. During the 1934 Grand Prix season – the first season of the infamous Silver Arrows period of German dominance of Grand Prix racing, that would last until the outbreak of WWII – he drove for the Auto Union Rennabteilung, and was the first driver of a Silver Arrows car to take a podium finish in a major race. During the season he took a further second-placed finish, and posted two fastest laps, but worsening arthritis and a deteriorating relationship with the Auto Union team manager forced him into retirement before the end of the year. Following his retirement from racing, Momberger returned to his engineering training and rose steadily through the ranks of the German automobile industry, eventually becoming technical director of the Borgward company's Goliath division in Bremen.

Auto Union

Auto Union AG, Chemnitz, was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded in 1932 and established in 1936 in Chemnitz, Saxony. It is the immediate predecessor of Audi as it is known today.

As well as acting as an umbrella firm for its four constituent brands (Audi, Horch, DKW, Wanderer), Auto Union is widely known for its racing team (Auto Union Rennabteilung, based at Horch works in Zwickau/Saxony). The Silver Arrows of the two German teams (Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union) dominated not only GP car racing from 1934 onwards but set records that would take decades to beat, such as the fastest speed ever attained on a public road (at 432.7 km/h (268.9 mph), unbroken as of 2013). After being reduced to near ruin in the aftermath of World War II, Auto Union was re-founded in Ingolstadt, Bavaria in 1949, ultimately evolving into the modern day Audi company following its takeover by Volkswagen in 1964 and later merger with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969.

The current corporate entity which bears the Auto Union name – Auto Union GmbH – was founded in 1985 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi AG; its purpose is to act as owner of Auto Union's historical trademarks and intellectual property, as well as managing Audi's heritage operations. The company's distinctive logo, of four interlocking rings to represent the original four members of the Auto Union, survives as the logo of Audi.

Czechoslovakian Grand Prix

The Czechoslovakian Grand Prix (Czech: Velká cena Československa; Slovak: Československá Grand Prix) was a Grand Prix motor racing event first held on September 28, 1930 at the Masaryk Circuit now referred to as the Brno Circuit. It was held in the town of Brno in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic).

From 1934 onwards, the race was dominated by the German Silver Arrows. In 1937, several spectators were killed or injured when Hermann Lang skidded off the track. The spectators had been in a prohibited area but Lang was sued anyway.

Due to the German occupation in 1938 the race was discontinued until 1949 when the Masaryk Circuit was shortened to 17.8 km (11.1 mi).

The 1949 competition, raced in the opposite direction than the pre-war races, drew a crowd in excess of 400,000 people. However, this would be the last Czechoslovakian Grand Prix. 27 years later a CSSR Grand Prix was held at the same venue as a round of the European Touring Car Championship. BMW dominated for six years through various models before Jaguar asserted their own dominance. The race became part of the one-off 1987 World Touring Car Championship, but at a new venue, the newly constructed Brno Circuit. The race was won by the Swiss-based factory Ford team. A final race was held the following year as part of the World Sportscar Championship. The Sauber-Mercedes of Jochen Mass and Jean-Louis Schlesser prevented the Tom Walkinshaw team from claiming a fourth win for Jaguar.

Donington Park

Donington Park is a motorsport circuit located near Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England. The circuit business is now owned by Jonathan Palmer's MotorSport Vision organisation, and the surrounding Donington Park Estate, still owned by the Wheatcroft family, is currently under lease by MotorSport Vision until 2038.Originally part of the Donington Hall estate, it was created as a racing circuit during the period between the First and Second World Wars when the German Silver Arrows were battling for the European Championship. Used as a military vehicle storage depot during the Second World War, it fell into disrepair until bought by local construction entrepreneur Tom Wheatcroft. Revived under his ownership in the 1970s, it hosted a single Formula One race, but became the favoured home of the British round of the MotoGP motorcycling championship.

Leased by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd in 2007 the hope that Formula One racing could return to the track, the incomplete venture failed to raise sufficient financial backing during the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. DVLL consequently lost the rights to the British rounds of both Formula 1 and MotoGP, and in its bankruptcy returned the track to the Wheatcroft family in December 2009.

Under Wheatcroft's ownership, the venue underwent significant work, with the track restored to use in 2010, before major upgrades in the following five years. At the end of 2010, it was announced that Donington would become home to an annual historic motorsport event, the Donington Historic Festival, with new events constantly being added. Since 2010, significant investment across the venue has seen major improvements made to its infrastructure, while the circuit has become a regular fixture for top class motorcycling in the form of the Superbike World Championship.

In January 2017, the circuit business and a long term lease on the estate was purchased by MotorSport Vision, with the purchase cleared by authorities in August of the same year. Significant investment has seen facilities at the venue brought up to modern standards, with a new restaurant, toilet blocks, large new grandstand and new circuit offices, as well as other detail changes. As well as improving the infrastructure, MSV has made additions to the race calendar, with additional major events planned for 2019 including extra rounds of the British Superbike Championship and British GT.

Global Jet Luxembourg

Global Jet Luxembourg, formerly Silver Arrows, is a private Luxembourgish air charter company operating business jets. It is headquartered in Hesperange and based at Luxembourg Airport.

The airline offers charter and leasing opportunities in Europe and Northern Africa.

Hans Stuck

This article is about the father; for the son, see Hans-Joachim Stuck.Hans Stuck (sometimes called Hans Stuck von Villiez, last name pronounced "shtook") (27 December 1900, in Warsaw – 9 February 1978, in Grainau) was a German motor racing driver. Both his son Hans-Joachim Stuck (born 1951) and his grandsons Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck became race drivers.

Despite many successes in Grand Prix motor racing for Auto Union in the early 1930s, during the era of the famous "Silver Arrows", he is now mostly known for his domination of hillclimbing, which earned him the nickname "Bergkönig" or "King of the Mountains".

Hermann Lang

Hermann Lang (6 April 1909 – 19 October 1987) was a German racing driver who raced motorcycles, Grand Prix cars, and sports cars.

Jaana Saarinen

Jaana E. Saarinen (born 22 June 1955 in Helsinki) is a Finnish actress. She is famous for the Finnish soap opera Salatut elämät, where she played Maarit Salin from 1999 to 2004, 2007 to 2008 and 2015. For 25 years, Saarinen was involved with the Kotka City Theatre from 1981 to 2006. She took part in the very first Thilia Thalia competition in 1983 and came third. Hannu Salminen and Tuija Piepponen, representatives of the Kotka City Theatre, won the competition that year.

In autumn 2007, Saarinen lost a vote for chair of the Finnish Actors' Union to actor Mikko Hänninen of the Tampere Theatre.

Saarinen won a Venla award for best actress on 12 January 2007 for her role in the 3-part miniseries Hopeanuolet (Silver Arrows) directed by Auli Mantila.

List of international auto racing colours

From the beginning of organised motor sport events, in the early 1900s, until the late 1960s, before commercial sponsorship liveries came into common use, vehicles competing in Formula One, sports car racing, touring car racing and other international auto racing competitions customarily painted their cars in standardised racing colours that indicated the nation of origin of the car or driver. These were often quite different from the national colours used in other sports or in politics.

Manfred von Brauchitsch

Manfred Georg Rudolf von Brauchitsch (15 August 1905 – 5 February 2003) was a German auto racing driver who drove for Mercedes-Benz in the famous "Silver Arrows" of Grand Prix motor racing in the 1930s.

Although an excellent driver who had reasonable success, he struggled with bad luck, and was overshadowed by his more successful Mercedes-Benz teammates Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang.

Mercedes-Benz in Formula One

Mercedes-Benz, through its subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited, is currently involved in Formula One as a constructor under the name of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. The team is based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, using a German licence. Mercedes-Benz competed in the pre-war European Championship winning three titles and debuted in Formula One in 1954, running a team for two years. The team is also known by their nickname, the "Silver Arrows".

After winning their first race at the 1954 French Grand Prix, driver Juan Manuel Fangio won another three Grands Prix to win the 1954 Drivers' Championship and repeated this success in 1955. Despite winning two Drivers' Championships, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from motor racing in response to the 1955 Le Mans disaster and did not return to Formula One until rejoining as an engine supplier in association with Ilmor, a British independent high-performance autosport engineering company later acquired by Mercedes, in 1994.

In addition to its factory team, Mercedes currently supplies engines to Racing Point and Williams. The manufacturer has collected more than 180 wins as an engine supplier and is ranked second in Formula One history. Seven Constructors' and 11 Drivers' Championships have been won with Mercedes-Benz engines.

Mercedes has become one of the most successful teams in recent Formula One history, having achieved consecutive Drivers' and Constructors' Championships from 2014 to 2018. In 2014, Mercedes managed 11 one-two finishes beating McLaren's 1988 record of 10. The record was extended the following year with 12 one-two finishes. Mercedes also collected 16 victories in 2014 and 2015 apiece breaking McLaren (1988) and Ferrari's (2002, 2004) record of 15. In 2016, they extended this record with 19 wins.

Mercedes-Benz in motorsport

Throughout its long history, Mercedes-Benz has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sportscar racing and rallying, and is currently active in Formula Three, Formula E and Formula One.

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (previously known as Ilmor Engineering and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines) is a British Formula One engine manufacturer, owned by Mercedes-Benz. The company has supplied Sauber during the 1994 season, McLaren from 1995 to 2014, Force India from 2009 to 2018, Brawn in 2009, the Mercedes factory team since 2010, Williams since 2014, Lotus in 2015, Manor Racing in 2016 and Racing Point since 2018. Their engines have won seven Formula One Constructors' Championships and nine Drivers' Championships.

René Le Bègue

René Le Bègue (15 January 1914 – 24 February 1946) was a Parisian-born French race car driver in Rally and Grand Prix motor racing. In his first year of top level racing, his best showing came at the 1936 Spa 24 Hours endurance race when he drove a Delahaye to a 2nd-place finish. In 1937 he and his co-pilot Julio Quinlin won the Monte Carlo Rally driving a Delahaye. That year Le Bègue also won the Coupe de Vitesse at the Autodrome de Montlhéry driving a Talbot-Lago T150 and had several top-three finishes. He then teamed up with André Morel to claim victory in the 1938 12 hours of Paris endurance race for sports cars. In 1939 he finished 3rd in the French Grand Prix behind the dominant Auto Union Silver Arrows then went on to win the Grand Prix du Comminges. The following year, Le Bègue traveled to the United States to compete in the 1940 Indianapolis 500. Driving a Maserati for the American/French owner Lucy O'Reilly Schell, he started in the last row in 31st position but drove to a 10th-place finish.

René Le Bègue continued racing until the German occupation of France during World War II when he joined the Free French Forces. With the war over, in 1946 he prepared to return to the racing scene and was elected vice-president of the French Drivers Association (AGACI, Association Générale des Amicales et Coureurs Indépendants). However, early that year before the season started the thirty-two-year-old Le Bègue was accidentally asphyxiated by gas leaking from a defective water heater in his bathroom. The 9 June 1946 Grand Prix race at Saint-Cloud, won by Raymond Sommer, was named the René Le Bègue Cup in his memory.

Silver Arrow

Silver Arrows are German racing cars

Silver Arrow may refer to:

The Pierce Silver Arrow, a luxury car introduced in 1933

Silver Arrow (rail-air service), a former intermodal passenger transport service between London and Paris

Silverpilen, The Silver Arrow, a legendary ghost train that haunts the Stockholm Metro

Silver Arrow, a division of Elbit Systems that builds unmanned aerial vehicles

Zilverpijl (Silver arrow), Belgian comic book series about the American Old West

The Grand Prix Silver Arrows
Auto Union


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