Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg on Wednesday completed a flying tour of Mercedes-Benz facilities near the company headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. After visiting the production facilities for the new A-Class and B-Class compact models in Rastatt, the drivers tried their hand at assembling the pistons and cylinder heads of a high-performance AMG engine at Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach. The 5.5 litre twin-turbo V8 engine will power the new Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, which will be given its world premiere at the 'Night of the Stars' on 21st July in Hockenheim.
The Rastatt production facility in Baden celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is the centre of competence for production of Mercedes-Benz compact class vehicles. Daimler has invested around €1.2 billion for the production of the new compact vehicles in Rastatt. 500 new jobs will be created this year, and the factory will employ around 6,600 people by the end of 2012. The B-Class has enjoyed record sales in the first half of 2012, while the first models of the brand new A-Class rolled off the production lines in July 2012. Next year, will see production of a third model - the compact SUV - begin in Rastatt.
During their visit, Schumacher and Rosberg entered their names into the ‘Golden Book’ of Rastatt in the presence of Oberbürgermeister Hans Jürgen Pütsch, then took part in the personalised delivery process at the factory’s Customer Centre, handing over the key of two brand new B-Class vehicles to two lucky customers. The opportunity to exchange a few words with their colleagues was a priority for the day - and both drivers entertained their colleagues with an extended Q&A session on an outdoor stage. Lucky winners were then treated to high-speed rides on the Rastatt test track at the wheel of two Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG super sports cars before the drivers got a look at the state-of-the-art production line for the all-new A-Class.
“You can never fail to be amazed when you get a chance to see behind the scenes of a facility like Rastatt,” commented Schumacher. “The scale of the factory and the high technology here are very different to what we know in Formula 1 - but it is clear that here, just like in our world, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to set the standard. We had the chance to drive the new A-Class earlier this year and it’s a great car - the design promises performance, and the chassis delivers exactly that.”
“There are over 6000 people working here in Rastatt,” added Rosberg. “That’s probably the same number as all the Formula 1 teams put together! As a works Silver Arrow driver, it’s always a great feeling to visit our colleagues in the rest of the company - it’s not only a boost ahead of our home Grand Prix, but also reminds me that we carry their hopes and represent them every time we take to the track. That’s a big responsibility - and we want to make sure we do them proud this weekend in Hockenheim.”
Formula 1 stars turn master engine builders at Mercedes-AMG
After seeing the heart of the production facilities for the Mercedes-Benz compact class, the drivers then headed to Mercedes-AMG for a taste of something completely different - the world of refined high performance at the Affalterbach production facilities. The drivers then put their own mechanical skills into practice as they followed the traditional AMG production philosophy of “one man, one engine” with a unique twist - “one team, one engine”, assisting with assembly of the new highly efficient M 157 V8 engine. This unit develops 410 kW (557 PS) and will be used in numerous AMG high-performance vehicles such as the new GL 63 AMG, the ML 63 AMG and the E 63 AMG as well as the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake.
The drivers were accompanied by an AMG master engine builder as they installed pistons and assembled the cylinder heads. The completed V8 engine for the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake will carry an AMG engine plate signed by Schumacher, Rosberg and, as per AMG tradition, the master engine builder. The experts from the AMG Performance Studio then began installing the 5.5 litre twin-turbo unit in the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake that will get its world premiere at the “Night of the Stars” in Hockenheim.
“It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes of the ultra-modern facilities here at Mercedes-AMG,” enthused Nico. “We met a lot of true Formula 1 fans among the people here. Like us, they work to the highest levels of precision and can really show the art of engineering, as they develop the highest performance Mercedes vehicles. It was an interesting challenge to help assemble the AMG V8 engine - and an interesting comparison to when I did the same with our Formula 1 engine last year. It gives me even more respect for all the people who work in the AMG engine build facility.”
“It’s amazing to see how AMG has developed since I last visited in the 1990s, when I made a guest start in the DTM,” commented Schumacher. “The people at AMG are incredibly enthusiastic, and have real spirit for performance and passion for motorsport. I was impressed by the ultra-modern AMG engine assembly facilities, where they produce the most powerful but also most efficient V12 and V8 engines in the world.”
“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome our Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as our guests at Mercedes-AMG,” commented Mercedes-AMG GmbH chairman Ola Källenius. “Michael and Nico did a perfect job as build technicians for the AMG M 157 power unit! And I am sure that they got a real insight into what our AMG brand promise ‘driving performance’ really means. On behalf of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, I would like to thank both drivers for visiting Affalterbach and wish them every success at this weekend’s German Grand Prix in Hockenheim!”
An insight into the wide world of Mercedes-Benz
Following their experiences in the engine build workshops of Mercedes-AMG, the drivers headed to the inaugural German FOTA Fan Forum in the Mercedes-Benz Niederlassung Stuttgart, where they will be joined by Formula 1 colleagues Nico Hulkenberg and Timo Glock for a Q&A session in front of 300 members of the public and Daimler employees. This event, held for the first time in Germany, will round off the drivers’ preparations for the German Grand Prix, just a stone’s throw from Daimler headquarters in Untertürkheim.
“The German Grand Prix is a highlight for our Mercedes Silver Arrows works team,” commented Norbert Haug, vice oresident, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “The drivers have been given a real insight into what Mercedes-Benz is all about today - from the exciting new compact class models produced in Rastatt, to the exclusive high-performance world of Mercedes-AMG. It is always a fantastic boost to feel how much support our motorsport programmes enjoy from within the company. That enthusiasm only strengthens our determination to deliver a strong performance this weekend in Hockenheim to reward our fans and colleagues.”