These Are the Mercedes Models That Played the Safety Car Part in Formula 1

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Today, the Mercedes-AMG GT R shares the Official Safety Car part in Formula 1 with the Aston Martin Vantage. But the story started back in 1996. How did we get here?

Back in 1996, Mercedes-AMG became the exclusive supplier of Safety Cars in the competition. The drivers could finally relax. The car dictating the pace was – at last! – quick enough. It was the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG that would lead the race whenever necessary, to give the marshals time to clear the debris caused by crashes on the racetrack, to lift up cars that would break down in dangerous spots on the track, or simply just slow the racing cars down when the weather went bananas.

The C 36 got deployed only two times and covered a total of 11 laps.

Then the Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG came, the first to get in the hands of long-term F1 Safety Car driver Bernd Maylander, who still handles the Safety Car in Formula 1 today. “It was a comfortable luxury coupé with ventilated leather seats and lots of power.” Just like the street version.

Mercedes Models That Played the Safety Car Part in Formula 1 (2)

And then he got his hands on the CLK 63 AMG. “When it rained, it was quite treacherous due to the light tail,” says Mayländer, “It was a real beast to drive – but it was really good fun.”

He eventually got his hands on the SLK 55 AMG and the SL models, whose AMG versions have up to 525 PS. But the one who got more attention than the racing cars themselves was the gullwinged SLS AMG, a modern successor to the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing racer.

In the 2015 season, the Mercedes-AMG GT S made its debut on the racetrack. “In the smaller racing series, I drive the safety car at about 70 percent of its capacity,” the former racing driver explains. “But in Formula One you’re always over 90 percent. It’s like a real endurance race and everyone wants me to go faster so their tires do not cool down.”

The Mercedes-AMG GT R replaced the GT S in 2018 with its 585 PS and 318 km/h (198 mph) top speed. By then it was Mercedes’ 23rd season leading the field in F1. “”It is an absolute highlight in terms of driving dynamics and is one level higher up still than the AMG GT S of recent years,” Berned Maylander told about his new track beast.

Mercedes Models That Played the Safety Car Part in Formula 1 (3)

The one that Bernd drives today is the most powerful Safety Car ever: the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series. It’s got 730 PS and hits 100 km/h (62 mph) from a standstill in 3.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).

And as impossible as it may seem, the only car that we get to see ahead of Max Verstappen this season is pretty much standard, plus the Track Package. It sports a roll cage made of titanium, two tablets on the dashboard for track monitoring, while the usual light bar got replaced by an innovative LED lighting cluster, positioned at the upper area of the windscreen. The rearward-facing lights, meanwhile, have been integrated into the rear spoiler.

For Bernd Maylander, it is the 24th season as a Safety Car driver. And the 52-year old is here to stay. “I’m. ready for the next 10-15 years!” he says.

Mercedes-AMG GT R Formula 1 Safety Car and Mercedes-AMG C63 Medical Car (3)

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Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz