Germany’s Mercedes mark 125 years of racing with new retro look

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team on Thursday revealed a special "retro" half-white livery for their cars being used to celebrate 125 years of motor sport at this weekend's German Grand Prix.

Germany's Mercedes mark 125 years of racing with new retro look
The special retro car on display in Hockenheim, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

The cars to be raced by five-time world champion Hamilton and his team-mate
Valtteri Bottas feature both white paintwork and silver, merging both in a “commemorative livery” for the event, which is sponsored by the team's parent

Sunday's race will also mark the team's 200th start as a manufacturer entrant in the world championship.

The front end of the W10 cars has been re-worked as a tribute to Mercedes' original colours and includes not only the white paintwork, but also red numbers and old-fashioned logos.

The rear remains predominantly silver, the colour for which the team became famous as the 'silver arrows'.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: “The world's first car race was held from Paris to Rouen in 1894 and the winning machine had at its heart an engine manufactured to the design of Gottlieb Daimler.

On display in Hockenheim, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

“It was the start of a great motor sport tradition that continues to this day and we are incredibly proud to write the next chapter in this legacy.”

His modern Mercedes team dominate Formula One and lead the constructors championship with 164 points ahead of Ferrari while Hamilton is 39 ahead of Bottas in the drivers title race.

According to Mercedes, the team started with white paintwork on their cars, but it had to be removed during a race meeting in 1943, to help the cars save weight.

In an official explanation, the team said the W25 car entered for the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring held on June 3 was found to be over 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,” said Mercedes.

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

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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