24 May 2015

1914 Mercedes. 
On 4 July, 1914, this car made Grand Prix history. Five of these Mercedes lined up for the start of the French Grand Prix near Lyon. This was a few days after Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been shot at Sarajevo. Despite the talk of inevitable war, the partisan French
crowd awaited another certain French victory, courtesy of 1912 and 1913 winner Georges Boillot and the Peugeot team. The only possible threat could come from Delage. However, the Germans looked ominous. Secrecy surrounded the Mercedes team. The hoods stayed down but everyone knew the engines were based on the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft aero engines developed for Kaiser Wilhelm. In preparation, the German drivers clocked up 30,000 test miles on the 23.3-mile Lyon circuit. The pit crew was well organised with fuel, oil and water in color-coded containers. Nothing was left to chance. Germans after all. Thirty seven cars started the 1914 French Grand Prix. Eleven finished. The Mercedes team worked closely together, making sacrifices to break up the opposition and protect their star drivers. One of the big white cars retired after 'an accident on the corner' and shortly a second followed. The battle now was between Lautenschlager’s Mercedes and Boillot’s Peugeot. The closing laps were the most exciting motor sport had seen. Suddenly, Boillot’s car gave out. There was a gasp as Lautenschlager crossed the finish line and a stunned silence as Wagner and Salzer followed – Mercedes one-two-three. The first hat-trick in Grand Prix history. Two weeks later, World War I began. Georges Boillot was killed in a dogfight with a German airplane.