Archive for April 2009

F1 Barcelona - Preview


Woking, United Kingdom, Apr 30, 2009

Lewis Hamilton
2009 championship position - 7th (9pts)
2008 Spanish GP
Qual - 5th
Race - 3rd
Fastest lap - 3rd

“The schedule for the first four races was very tough for everyone, so going back to Europe almost feels like a fresh start. After such a positive performance in Bahrain, we’re fully aware that the characteristics of the Barcelona track won’t suit our car so well. In addition, we won’t have the bigger upgrades of some of the other teams as we already introduced several new parts during the opening flyaways, so it will be interesting to see where we sit in the order. Nevertheless, the engineers are optimistic that our new diffuser and front wing will once again help us to make progress towards the front of the grid.”

Heikki Kovalainen
2009 championship position - 10th (4pts)
2008 Spanish GP
Qual - 6th
Race - Ret
Fastest lap - 6th

“Going back to the scene of last year’s accident doesn’t change anything for me: I really enjoy this track – I had a great race to fifth here in 2007 and I love the high-speed corners, where you’ve got to push hard to get the maximum from the car. It’s also a circuit where you need to find the perfect balance to look after the tyres – and I really enjoy trying to find the best compromise for the race. Our pre-season test at Barcelona was not very encouraging, so we are going into this race with realistic expectations, but I’m optimistic the whole team can deliver once again this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Our decision to introduce performance updates at each race rather than concentrate all our developments into a single upgrade package has helped us score some reasonable points in the opening flyaway races. With our rivals expected to introduce some more substantial improvements in Barcelona this weekend, we once again expect a fight to score points. And while the high-downforce nature of the Circuit de Catalunya may show up some of MP4-24’s shortcomings, everyone within the team remains confident and motivated that we can sustain the momentum we have gathered to push and close the gap to the front this weekend.”

Norbert Haug
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“The first four flyaway races within only five weeks have been turbulent and downright demanding for everyone in Formula 1, and particularly for us. The field has moved closer together than ever before in Formula 1 history. Unfortunately, we are still not competing in the right position and the beginning of the European Formula 1 season in Barcelona will be a true test for the future balance of power. I expect an extremely difficult race. We are in the middle of an intensive process of catching up and, in comparison to our competitiveness in the previous two seasons, we are still far from where we need to be. Our team is working extremely hard to achieve more significant improvements in aerodynamics and particularly in downforce, but to do so we still need more time.“

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McLaren Mercedes manages to escape free of penalty

Today, 29th of April, 2009, the World Motor Sports Council met in Paris to deliver a final verdict in the newest liegate scandal, between Toyota and McLaren Mercedes.

As you may already know, McLaren was accused of intentionatelly misleading the FIA stewards at the audiences that took place after the first race of the 2009 season. There, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's driver, and Dave Ryan, technical director of the company, delivered a faulty speech about the Safety Car incident happened between Hamilton and Toyota's Jarno Trulli, a speech that was particularly designed to disadvantage the Italian driver. But after a few days, new evidence in this case came to light when an audio recording between Lewis and his team, whose content was completely contradictory to the situation presented by McLaren at the first hearing, was found. The British F1 team was then accused of breaching the article 151 letter c from the International Sporting Code. As a consequence to this fact, everyone expected a tough penalty, as McLaren has already been confronted with a similar situation in 2007.

Today, McLaren was solely represented in Paris by Martin Whitmarsh, team principal, who played guilty for all of the five accusations. A three-race ban for McLaren was on the way, but the FIA officials were impressed by the clear speech and arguments that Whitmarsh provided, so they decided to suspend the penalty. But not everything will be that easy:if in the next 12 months new evidence is found or McLaren is involved again in a similar scandal, the penalty will be immediately applied.

"I hope that this will draw a line and we can carry on with racing." were the words of Martin Whitmarsh after exiting the appeal in Paris. Simple, but effective!


McLaren attends FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing

This morning the FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Paris to discuss a number of subjects including issues related to events that took place at the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council members heard from Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal) and have issued the following statement:

"Having regard to the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC, and the change in culture which he made clear has taken place in his organisation, the WMSC decided to suspend the application of the penalty it deems appropriate. The penalty is a suspension of the team from three races of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. This will only be applied if further facts emerge regarding the case or if, in the next 12 months, there is a further breach by the team of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code."

McLaren accepts the FIA World Motor Sport Council's decision and wishes to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for the very fair hearing they have given us this morning.

We now look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our efforts to develop a closer and more co-operative relationship between ourselves and the FIA.

We will also continue to focus our efforts on closing the performance gap that exists between our car and the fastest cars.

Following Lewis Hamilton's encouraging fourth place in Bahrain last Sunday, we are now optimistic that we will be able to play an increasingly competitive part in what is fast developing into a very exciting season of Formula 1 motor racing.

Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal) said:
"I would like to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council members for affording me the opportunity to answer their questions this morning. We are aware that we made serious mistakes in Australia and Malaysia, and I was therefore very glad to be able to apologise for those mistakes once again. I was also pleased to be able to assure the FIA World Motor Sport Council members that we had taken appropriate action with a view to ensuring that such mistakes do not occur again."

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Following the trail of Bertha Benz: F-CELL Roadster on the historic route of Bertha Benz


Mannheim/Wiesloch, Germany, Apr 27, 2009

- Retracing the first long-distance journey in automobile history

- Chemist´s shop in Wiesloch as aiming point

The F-CELL Roadster built by apprentices at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen covered a section of the historic route taken by Bertha Benz on the past weekend. Starting in Mannheim, the fuel cell powered car was driven via Ladenburg and Heidelberg. The symbolic passing of the finish line was at the chemist’s shop in Wiesloch, where Bertha Benz stopped to refuel during the first long-distance journey in automobile history in 1888.

"This trip by the F-CELL Roadster is symbolic of the current change taking place in automobile engineering", says Dr. Thomas Weber, the member of the Daimler AG Executive Board responsible for corporate research and development at Mercedes-Benz Cars. "At that time Bertha Benz was not yet able to purchase the petrol she needed at a filling station, and for emission-free mobility we are also dependent on the widespread distribution of fuels for the future – electric power and hydrogen. But just as Bertha Benz refused to be discouraged by inconveniences in her day, we are just as determined to help ensure that these technologies achieve their breakthrough."

Before the end of this year, the company will commence small-series production of the B-Class with a fuel cell drive system. At the end of 2009 the first examples of the smart fortwo electric drive model will also leave the production line to enter service in the "e-mobility Berlin" project early next year.

The F-CELL Roadster

For around one year, more than 150 apprentices and sandwich course students worked on the design, development, assembly and completion of the F- CELL Roadster. The work also involved promising young personnel from the fields of vehicle mechatronics, model-building, electronics, coating technology and production mechanics, as well as product design and interior equipment. The main aim of the project was to integrate the topic of alternative drive systems into the training content in a practical manner.

In a unique way, the vehicle links the very latest technologies with the history of automobile engineering. As a feature reminiscent of the Benz Patent Motor Wagon of 1886, the car is equipped with large, spoked wheels. The F-CELL Roadster also has styling features from a wide range of automotive eras. These include carbon-fibre seat bases with hand-stitched leather upholstery and a striking glass-fibre front end that takes its lead from Formula 1 racing cars.

The car is steered using drive-by-wire technology, a conventional steering wheel giving way to a joystick. It is powered by an emission-free fuel cell system installed in the rear. With an output of 1.2 kW, the F-CELL Roadster is capable of a top speed of 25 km/h with an operating range of up to 350 km.

First long-distance journey in automobile history

In August 1888, Bertha Benz and her two sons made a journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim in the Patent Motor Wagon designed by her husband Carl Benz, returning to Mannheim a few days later. This first long-distance journey in the history of the automobile is acknowledged as a pioneering event. The journey was practically problem-free, with just a few small technical hitches that could all be remedied.

The supply of "Ligroin", as petrol was called at the time, gave cause for concern, however, as the 4.5-litre supply in the carburettor – there was no petrol tank as yet – was rapidly dwindling. Ligroin could be purchased from pharmacies in those days, and the town pharmacy in Wiesloch was able to help out. The shop still exists today, and is proud to inform visitors that it was the world’s first filling station.

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Daimler posts EBIT of minus €1,426 million in first quarter of 2009


Stuttgart, Germany, Apr 28, 2009

- Net loss of €1,286 million (Q1 2008: net profit of €1,332 million)

- Revenue significantly below prior-year level at €18.7 billion

- Decreases in unit sales and revenue expected for full-year 2009

- Implementation of measures with the aim of saving €4 billion in 2009

- Gradual improvement in operating profitability expected during 2009, but renewed significant operating loss in second quarter

Mercedes-Benz Cars expects positive earnings again in second half of this year
The global financial and economic crisis and the resulting difficult automotive markets placed a significant burden on the earnings of the Daimler Group (stock-exchange abbreviation DAI) in the first quarter of 2009.

Daimler posted EBIT of minus €1,426 million for the first quarter of 2009 (Q1 2008: plus €1,976 million).

The significant decline in earnings primarily reflects the sharp drops in unit sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks and Mercedes-Benz Vans in the first quarter of 2009. The measures already taken mitigated the decline in earnings, but were far from sufficient to compensate for the effect of the decrease in Group revenue related to lower unit sales. Increased cost of risk at Daimler Financial Services led to a fall in that division’s operating results.

Earnings in the first quarter of 2008 were positively affected by gains realized on the sale of real estate properties at Potsdamer Platz (€449 million) and gains connected with the transfer of EADS shares (€102 million). There was an opposing effect from charges relating to Daimler’s equity interest in Chrysler (€491 million). Special items are shown in the table on page 10.

The Group posted a net loss for the period of €1,286 million (Q1 2008: net profit of €1,332 million); earnings per share amounted to minus €1.40 (Q1 2008: plus €1.29).

Unit sales down by 34% in the first quarter

In the first quarter of 2009, Daimler sold 332,300 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide, which was 34% lower than in the same period of last year.

The Daimler Group’s first-quarter revenue decreased significantly from €24.0 billion to €18.7 billion in 2009. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue fell by 25%.
At the end of the first quarter of 2009, Daimler employed 263,819 people worldwide (end of Q1 2008: 273,902). Of that total, 164,983 people were employed in Germany (end of Q1 2008: 166,661).

The free cash flow of the industrial business was negative and fell significantly by €2.2 billion to minus €1.1 billion.

The main reason for the decrease in the free cash flow was the development of the divisions’ earnings. In addition, the free cash flow of the prior-year period included proceeds from the sale of real estate at Potsdamer Platz and from the transfer of EADS shares totaling €1.4 billion. However, there were positive effects on the free cash flow of the industrial business from the development of inventories.

Details of the divisions in the first quarter of 2009

Due to the ongoing contraction of worldwide automobile markets and the model changeover of the high-volume E-Class, Mercedes-Benz Cars sold 231,200 vehicles in the first quarter of 2009 (Q1 2008: 318,300). First-quarter revenue decreased by 27% to €9.1 billion.

The division posted EBIT of minus €1,123 million in the first quarter, which was significantly below the result of the prior-year quarter (plus €1,152 million).
The decline in earnings is mainly a result of the significant decrease in demand for automobiles and the resulting drop in unit sales. The lifecycle-related replacement of the E-Class also had a negative impact on sales. Earnings were additionally reduced by a shift in demand towards smaller models and ongoing price pressure in automobile markets. The decline in earnings was partially offset by the timely initiation of cost-adjusting actions such as the introduction of short-time work at plants in Germany.

Daimler Trucks sold 65,400 vehicles worldwide in the first quarter of 2009 (Q1 2008: 107,700). The significant decrease was caused by the worldwide recession. Revenue decreased from €6.3 billion to €4.9 billion.

Due to the significant decline in unit sales, the division recorded EBIT of minus €142 million, which was significantly below the EBIT of plus €403 million posted in the prior-year quarter. There was an additional negative impact on EBIT in Q1 2009 of €45 million from the measures initiated in 2008 for the repositioning of Daimler Trucks North America. Positive effects resulted from cost adjustments and further efficiency improvements.

The Trucks Europe/Latin America unit (Mercedes-Benz) sold 23,100 vehicles in the first quarter (Q1 2008: 33,800), a decrease compared with the prior-year quarter, as expected. Sales of 17,200 units by Trucks NAFTA (Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses) were also lower than in the prior-year period(Q1 2008: 27,500). Trucks Asia (Mitsubishi Fuso) sold 25,100 vehicles in the first quarter (Q1 2008: 46,500).

The Daimler Group adjusted its segment reporting at the beginning of 2009. The business activities of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses, which were previously reported under Vans, Buses, Other, are now presented separately.

Due to a severe market slump, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ unit sales decreased to 28,800 vehicles in the first quarter (Q1 2008: 68,600). Revenue of €1.3 billion was also well below the figure for the prior-year period.

The Mercedes-Benz Vans division posted EBIT of minus €91 million (Q1 2008: plus €186 million). Positive effects resulted from efficiency increases and the development of some currencies.

Despite the difficult market situation, Mercedes-Benz Vans continued to defend its market leadership for medium-sized and large vans in Western Europe, taking a market share of 16.7% (Q1 2008: 16.3%).

Daimler Busessold 6,800 buses and chassis worldwide in the first quarter of this year (Q1 2008: 9,200). As the decline in unit sales is almost solely accounted for by lower volumes of chassis in Latin America, revenue decreased at the much lower rate of 2% to €904 million. The division achieved EBIT of €65 million (Q1 2008: €75 million).

At Daimler Financial Services, new business decreased by 12% compared with the prior-year quarter to €5.9 billion. Contract volume amounted to €62.0 billion at the end of the first quarter, which was 2% lower than at the end of 2008.

The division posted first-quarter EBIT of minus €167 million (Q1 2008: plus €168 million). The decline in earnings was primarily due to charges resulting from further increases in risk provisions. An additional factor is that the EBIT for the period includes losses from the sale of parts of the non-automotive leasing portfolio. Furthermore, expansion of Mercedes-Benz Bank’s direct banking business entailed expenses, which had a negative impact on first-quarter earnings.

The other business activities – in particular the equity holdings in Chrysler, EADS and Tognum, which were previously allocated to Vans, Buses, Other – have been included in “Reconciliation” since the beginning of 2009.

In the first quarter of 2009, Daimler’s share in the net profit of EADS amounted to €83 million (Q1 2008: €22 million). The equity-method inclusion of the 19.9% equity interest in Chrysler did not lead to any further charges on earnings. In connection with the legal transfer of Chrysler’s international sales activities to Chrysler LLC and due to the valuation of Chrysler-related assets, the Group recorded a total gain of €40 million in the first quarter of 2009.


Based on the divisions’ planning, Daimler expects its total unit sales to decrease significantly in the year 2009 (2008: 2.1 million vehicles).

Mercedes-Benz Cars has an up-to-date and competitive product range. Sales impetus will be provided by the GLK, a compact SUV that has been available since the end of 2008, and the new E-Class sedan, which was launched in March 2009. The station-wagon version of the E-Class will follow this autumn. The new E-Class coupe will also be launched this year, followed by the convertible. The division intends to further enhance the attractiveness of its product range with new generations of the S-Class and the GL. With the S 400 HYBRID and additional BlueEFFICIENCY models, the entire model range will be supplemented with particularly environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient drive systems. For the smart fortwo, new sales potential will be utilized this year with launches in the growth markets of China and Brazil. However, Mercedes-Benz Cars will not be able to avoid the expected weakness of major sales markets and in particular of its main market segments. Overall, unit sales in 2009 will therefore be lower than in the prior year. Lower volumes are anticipated above all in the markets of the United States, Western Europe and Japan, which have been particularly hard hit by the economic and financial crisis. Unit sales should be partially stabilized by growth in the emerging markets, however.

Mercedes-Benz Cars assumes it will at least maintain its market shares and that the bottom of the EBIT curve was reached in the first quarter. Due in particular to the cost-reducing measures and the launch of the new E-Class in Europe and the US launch planned for June 2009, there should be a gradual improvement in profitability over the next three quarters and positive earnings in the second half of the year.

As a result of the global economic crisis, Daimler Trucks assumes that unit sales will fall significantly in all its major markets in full-year 2009. The division expects to maintain its shares of core markets, however. The full impact of the significant drop in demand in all markets since the beginning of this year will be felt as of the second quarter. Further burdens on earnings are therefore anticipated, especially in the second quarter. The repositioning of Daimler Trucks North America Expenses will give rise to expenses of €150 million, of which €45 million was already recognized in the first quarter.

Due to stagnating demand and the ongoing recession in major economies, Mercedes-Benz Vans does not expect an improvement in unit sales in the coming months. In line with the significant fall in demand in all markets, further burdens on earnings are anticipated, particularly in the second quarter.

Daimler Buses anticipates lower unit sales in 2009 than in the record year 2008. Nonetheless, the unit expects to achieve positive earnings, though substantially lower than in 2008.

Daimler Financial Services anticipates rising credit defaults and higher refinancing expenses in full-year 2009. The lowest point for earnings should have been reached in the first quarter, however. Contract volume is expected to decrease compared with 2008.

The Daimler Group’s total revenue is likely to decrease significantly in full-year 2009 (2008: €95.9 billion).

In order to alleviate the impact of the significant decline in unit sales and revenue caused by the global financial and economic crisis, at short notice Daimler has initiated measures designed to adjust costs and avoid expenditure across all divisions and at the Group’s headquarters. As well as actions to reduce labor costs, this includes the reduction of fixed costs and administrative expenses and further streamlining of the Group’s organizational structures. In addition, projects are being postponed if they are not directly relevant to competitiveness.

The measures initiated supplement the existing efficiency-enhancing programs and will be implemented at the Group in the coming months. As a result, Daimler expects to achieve cost reductions or to avoid cost increases in a total amount of €4 billion. Based on these measures, which will have their full impact in the second half of the year, and due to the launch of the new E-Class, the Daimler Group anticipates a gradual improvement in operating profitability as the year progresses. Earnings in the second quarter are expected to be significantly negative once again, however.

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Daimler reaches agreement on separation from Chrysler


Stuttgart, Germany, Apr 27, 2009

* Agreement with US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), Chrysler and Cerberus on pending issues

* Redemption of remaining 19.9% shareholding

Daimler AG (stock-exchange abbreviation DAI), Chrysler, Cerberus and the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) signed a binding term sheet on April 27, 2009 covering issues still pending between the parties in connection with Chrysler.

Under this agreement, Daimler’s remaining 19.9% shareholding in Chrysler will be redeemed and Daimler will forgive repayment of the loans extended to Chrysler, which were already written off in the 2008 financial statements.

In addition, Daimler has agreed to pay US $200 million into Chrysler’s pension plans on the date of the execution of definitive agreements and in each of the next two years. In this way, Daimler is helping to secure pension payments to former employees of DaimlerChrysler. The existing pension guaranty of US $1 billion vis-à-vis the PBGC will be reduced to an amount of US $200 million and will remain in place until August 2012.

Chrysler and Cerberus waive any claims that might arise from representations and warranties made in the transaction of August 3, 2007, including the accusations made against Daimler in 2008 that Daimler allegedly improperly managed certain issues in the period between the signing of the agreement and the conclusion of the transaction. This also applies to the accusation that incomplete information was provided on the transaction.

Following the transfer of the term sheet into the final definitive agreements, the relationship between Daimler and Chrysler will solely consist of supplier-customer relations, including limited support for certain dealer financing until the end of September 2009, as well as certain guaranties.

The effect on EBIT resulting from this agreement, which will be reflected in Daimler’s financial statements for the second quarter of 2009, is estimated at up to US $0.7 billion. The payments to be made in the years 2009 through 2011 amount to US $200 million per annum.

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F1 Sakhir - SUN - Race - Lewis Hamilton 4th, Heikki Kovalainen 12th


Sakhir, Bahrain, Apr 26, 2009



Started: 5th

Finished: 4th

Fastest lap: 1m34.915s on lap 13 (6th)

Pitstops: two (Op-Op-Pr)

Championship points: 9

Championship pos: 7th

Lewis made a fantastic start, converting fifth to third after vaulting both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel into the first corner. On the opening lap, he was even able to look up the inside of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota for second, but prudently dropped back. At the start of lap two, he was relegated to fourth by a charging Button. “My start was quite good,” said Lewis. “Unfortunately, I was not able to keep third place – Jenson was just so fast through the corners so he was on my tail all the time.”

Nonetheless, he remained in fourth through the first round of stops (he stopped at the end of lap 15 and was stationary for 7.6s), jumping Timo Glock but being usurped by Vettel. Settling in behind Vettel and Trulli for the middle stint, the team remained hopeful of claiming a podium position but the pace of the lead cars left Lewis a solid fourth after his second pitstop (on lap 37, 8.0s).

“I’m delighted with fourth,” he said afterwards. “The Toyotas, Red Bulls and Brawns were so fast in the high-speed corners that it was just impossible to keep up. But this is another encouraging step for the team, we just need to keep working on the car because we’re not really fighting back quite yet, we are collecting points. And the gap will be bigger when we go to Barcelona because it’s a high-downforce circuit. We should challenge for the top 10 there, but another top-five will be harder.”

Lewis’s third consecutive points finish moves him to seventh in the drivers’ championship.


Started: 11th

Finished: 12th

Fastest lap: 1m35.520s on lap 54 (12th)

Pitstops: two (Pr-Op-Op)

Championship points: 4

Championship pos: 10th

An unfulfilling race for Heikki after a strong start to his weekend: a hectic opening lap, coupled with the team’s decision to start on the harder Bridgestone prime tyre, effectively ruined his chances of a strong result before he had completed his first stint.

Fuelled heavily and starting from 11th on the grid, he dropped to 17th and, despite climbing back to 13th, the slower prime meant he was powerless to get back into contention. “My start was a disaster,” he said. “Obviously, to begin the race on the prime tyre was the wrong choice. The harder tyres didn’t have the right grip and soon started to deteriorate.”

His planned longer-running first stint was also hurt by a tyre vibration issue which prompted the team to pit him earlier than scheduled (lap 12), further losing him track position and his strategic advantage. “The tyres started vibrating even though there wasn’t a flat-spot,” he explained.

Despite now being fitted with the faster option tyre (his second stop was on lap 37), he dropped back into the lower reaches of the top 20 and spent the remainder of his afternoon battling back to 12th.

“After my first pitstop the car felt much better,” Heikki added, “but by then it was too late to improve dramatically. Anyway, the pace was not very good. We now need to go away and analyse why our performance was not good enough today. We’ll be working even harder to improve it ahead of the next race in Barcelona.”



“A great drive by Lewis today; he made no mistakes during the race and pushed aggressively. Without the pace to match the Toyotas, Brawns or Red Bulls, fourth place was a very strong result and it’s even more pleasing that we are steadily moving closer to their pace. A podium was in our grasp today but we didn’t quite make it. With Heikki, we fuelled him long and took a risk starting on the prime tyre. But we had to stop earlier than anticipated and lost too much time among other cars attempting a similar strategy, so that was disappointing. Overall, however this circuit possibly flattered us a little, but we’ve nonetheless made substantial progress over the past few weeks. Our competitors won’t stand still but we will keep improving until we get back to where we expect to be – at the front.”

“This was a step forward, no doubt. Likewise I think the nature of this racetrack at one of our home races here in Bahrain and Lewis’s driving skills helped us as much to achieve this result as our KERS hybrid, which is worth nearly half a second per lap around here. As for Heikki his race was basically over in the first lap traffic jam. Everybody in the team is well aware of the fact that we need to produce further dramatic improvements to MP4-24 in order to come back to where we used to be. Congratulations to BrawnGP for the third win in their fourth race ‘powered by Mercedes-Benz.’ Again, our engine guys did everything to keep the customer satisfied, and that is a very good feeling for everybody involved at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth as well as in Stuttgart. Well done!”

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F1 Sakhir - SAT - Qualifying - Lewis Hamilton fifth, Heikki Kovalainen eleventh


Sakhir, Bahrain, Apr 25, 2009




P3 programme

16 laps 1m32.975s (4th)

Encouraged by the pace and consistency of MP4-24, Lewis made more progress with the car ahead of qualifying. Completing three runs (five laps/1m33.999s best; three laps/1m32.975s and a single-lap of 1m33.605s), he ended the day fourth fastest. “We are making improvements all the time,” he said.


Q1 1m32.851s (3rd)

Q2 1m32.877s (8th)

Q3 1m34.196 (5th overall)

Lewis set a Q1 banker on option tyres of 1m33.290s before setting a faster 1m32.851s, again on options, to finish the first session third fastest. Into Q2, he ran a used set of options to record a 1m33.472s – a lap he was dissatisfied with – before pulling out a 1m32.877s to finish eighth in an incredibly closely fought session. Into Q3 for the second time this year, Lewis set a 1m35.042s banker on primes before recording a 1m34.196s, on options, to line up fifth – the team’s best qualifying position of the season.

“We have been pushing incredibly hard over the last couple of months and this is a result of all our hard work,” said Lewis. “I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved: firstly, it was good to get into the top 10, then it was even better to battle inside the top 10! We’ve got a similar pace to some of the guys in the top five; as long as everything goes smoothly we should be able to get a top five finish tomorrow. I can almost see pole position now – and I’m really looking forward to getting there soon!”



P3 programme

12 laps 1m33.478s (12th)

The start of Heikki’s programme was delayed by an electrical problem. As a result, his running was curtailed; he completed just two runs – a five-lap stint on primes (1m34.233s best) to evaluate overnight set-up changes and a shorter, final run to assess the option tyre (three laps/1m33.478s). He ended up 12th fastest.


Q1 1m33.479s (11th)

Q2 1m33.242s (11th overall)

Q3 -

Running on primes for his first run in Q1, Heikki recorded a 1m35.542s, followed by a cool-down lap before setting a 1m34.589s. With the majority of the field so competitive, the team opted for a second run, and Heikki set a 1m33.479s, on options, to finish Q1 11th. Into Q2, Heikki went out early and set a 1m33.273s, only slightly improving to a 1m33.242s on his second run to finish 11th – narrowly missing the top 10 by less than a tenth.

“I didn't have any major problems today but, obviously I wasn't as fast as I would have liked,” said Heikki afterwards. “We have to analyse what went wrong. Nevertheless our competiveness has improved compared to the previous grands prix. We are lacking pace especially in the middle sector. However, the fact that I was less than one tenth of a second behind 10th position in Q2 shows that we have made some more progress. I am now looking forward to the race, where my target is to achieve a solid points result."


“After our top-10 qualifying position in Shanghai last weekend, today’s performance once again shows that we are continuing to make progress with MP4-24. Lewis’s top-five position is a fantastic achievement and, considering he began the first race of the season from 18th on the grid, a fantastic indicator of just how much progress the team has made. Of course, while our qualifying positions mark the team’s best Saturday performance of the season, they were made without compromise to our race pace; both Lewis and Heikki are well placed to pick up some more points for the team tomorrow.”

“Looks like we are heading in the right direction. Lewis did a great job yesterday and today. The layout of the track is not bad for us as our car is strong under braking and we feel that our KERS hybrid is helping here as well. A shame for Heikki that he missed Q3 by less than one tenth, finishing 11th while Lewis was eighth: an incredibly close session, with 0.05s covering fourth to eighth! It is extremely tight these days in Formula 1 but that is great for the spectators – they are what we are here for.”

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F1 Sakhir - FRI - Free Practice


Sakhir, Bahrain, Apr 24, 2009




P1 programme

19 laps – 1m33.747s (1st)

With minimal changes to MP4-24 since Shanghai, the team once again back-to-backed the type-two and three front wing iterations, with Lewis spending just a single run evaluating FW2 and still declaring himself happier with the newer version. “We’ve definitely got a very well-balanced car around here,” he said. “The track felt very grippy from the start of the session and our work on the prime tyre was very consistent.” Lewis conducted three runs: five laps/1m33.647s; three laps/1m34.358s (with FW2) and four laps/1m34.114s. As in Shanghai, he ended the P1 session fastest overall.

P2 programme

30 laps – 1m33.994s (11th)

Moving into a tyre comparison programme for the afternoon, Lewis started P2 on a set of primes, running four laps and setting a best of 1m35.388s. Thereafter, he switched to the option, completing three further runs (eight laps/1m34.970s; seven laps/1m34.157s; three laps/1m33.994s) in order to ascertain the softer tyre’s durability. While Lewis only recorded 11th-fastest time in the session, his engineers are once again encouraged by his fuel-corrected and long-run pace. “Both sessions were consistent and very productive,” Lewis explained. “The whole field looks very tight, but we are definitely taking steps forward. While we haven’t made significant progress – we didn’t bring anything new here this weekend – our goal remains to score some more points.”



P1 programme

24 laps – 1m34.502s (6th)

Heikki’s early runs led him to conclude that he felt more comfortable using the older FW2 version. Running on primes throughout the session, Heikki set best times of five laps/1m34.718s, four laps/1m34.907s – with FW3, and including a mid-run stop to adjust the front wing – and six laps/1m34.502s. “The track was surprisingly grippy at the start of practice,” said Heikki afterwards, “but the pitlane was quite dusty and slippery, making it easy to lock wheels. I feel more comfortable with the older-spec front wing, but maybe we still need to evaluate it.” Heikki ended the session fifth fastest.

P2 programme

35 laps – 1m34.764s (19th)

Running a similar programme to Lewis, Heikki also completed four runs, starting out on the primes before switching to the option for his longer runs. Despite finishing 19th fastest, Heikki and his team conducted a very disciplined programme focusing on raceday performance: “We once again made progress and have made improvements to the car since Shanghai,” said Heikki. “The big stops and long straights of this circuit really suit our package. My KERS stopped towards the end of the final session, which meant my times weren’t as competitive as they could have been. But I definitely think we’ll be more competitive in qualifying.” Heikki’s run times in P2 were: five laps/1m35.560s; eight laps/1m35.162s; eight laps/1m34.857s; six laps/1m34.764s.



“We are satisfied with the progress we made today. Given MP4-24’s performance deficit, we run these sessions with considerable discipline to ensure that the improvements we make to the car are very rigorously tested in the field. Our times in first practice were a little flattering but our afternoon programme was encouraging. Having only raced in Shanghai last week, we don’t have too many upgrades for the car, but we have succeeded in finding a decent balance for MP4-24 and that certainly gives us a good foundation for the rest of the weekend.”

“This was a productive first day and we did a lot of running posting reasonably quick and, more importantly, consistent laptimes. The order in the afternoon reflects, in my view, not the right picture here as was equally the case with Lewis’s P1 in first practice. Our KERS is helping quite a bit around this circuit and our plan is to use it here tomorrow and on Sunday – being the only team to do so with both cars in all the races so far.”

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Interview with Mercedes-Benz Head of Design Gorden Wagener on the new E-Class Coupé and Mercedes design

Stuttgart, Germany, Apr 24, 2009

What's special about a coupé?
Coupés have a long tradition at Mercedes-Benz. A coupé must have emotive appeal, it must address all the senses.

What are the particular challenges that a coupé poses for the designers at Mercedes-Benz? To what extent is a different approach required?

Every Mercedes-Benz coupé is an elegant automobile, yet at the same time an automobile with a highly emotive appeal. It must, therefore, address all the senses and additionally offer something of the unexpected, a dash of audacity. In short, a Mercedes coupé makes the pulse race - but the observer is never exactly sure whether this is because of the vehicle's elegance or its dynamism.

How close is the relationship between the E-Class saloon and the coupé?
The coupé deliberately makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is a close relative of the new E-Class saloon. This can clearly be seen from the vehicle's twin headlamps, which are likewise in the shape of rhomboids. However, their styling is sportier and sharper, and they have a more dynamic and aggressive look. In common with the new E-Class, the rear wing of the coupé boasts the same forceful curves. Yet, despite its family resemblance to the E-Class, the new coupé has an independent, passionate and sporty character.

Mercedes-Benz has stayed with the twin headlamps for the new E-Class. Why?
The twin headlamps have been a key element in the visual appearance of the
E-Class since 1995 and are therefore one of our traditional recognition symbols. We didn't want to do without them. However, the headlamps are now no longer oval in shape, but more progressive and based on the geometrical forms of cubism. This makes them look like polished jewels, and they present a completely new image -- surprising, yet nonetheless unmistakable. The E-Class is seen once again with "New Eyes".

How did the new design idiom come into being?
It was developed and coordinated with great effort in the course of a long process, the principal objective being to ensure the outward reflection of inner values - character and premium quality.

How do you design a coupé without making the saloon look bad?

You first have to design a great saloon - that's the starting point for making other "family members" look good.

Mercedes-Benz has created numerous legendary coupés - doesn't such a "heritage" make the designer nervous?
If anything, it's a great challenge. After all, every Mercedes-Benz coupé should be something absolutely special - as regards its engineering and, above all, as regards its styling. My team and I approach this task with great enthusiasm.

When were you first bitten by the Mercedes bug?
My first encounter with a Mercedes was around 30 years ago. As a small boy, I was standing in front of a 123 series model, a dark blue 230 CE, and was fascinated by its form and presence. My father was also a Mercedes fan.

Where do your best ideas come from?
Often, it's something spontaneous: a single glance at a street scene, during a walk in the countryside or on a visit to a museum - a designer is open to his surroundings and lets himself be inspired - 24 hours a day.

Do you still design?
Yes, I've been known to sketch the odd car or detail at a meeting because an idea came to me and the meeting just happened at that moment not to be quite so interesting. Three lines are sometimes all it takes to show where things might lead. It used to be my ambition as head of design to be the best at designing, but that definitely isn't the case any more. Yet I must still remain capable of presenting a good design. That's a personal ambition of mine.

What do/did you find fascinating about designing automobiles, then as a young designer and today all those years later?

Design always continues to evolve - just like society. I find this fascinating, because we designers help to shape the future. For my team and me, each new day begins with a journey into the future and with the ideas we are planning for the years to come. This is what drives me every day.

What does Mercedes design mean to you?

Designing a Mercedes is always something very special. For me, Mercedes design is a story of pure excitement - past, present and future.

Does every Mercedes model have its own unique personality?
Each Mercedes model has its own personality, both those of the past and also those of the present. Although there is a distinct family relationship, each member of the family is unique and unmistakable. Every Mercedes reflects the basic values of the brand while still having its own unique character. The E-Class Coupé represents emotive appeal combined with efficiency.

How important for you is the design of the interior?
It's quite simply the case that people spend more time inside their vehicles than in front of them. This means that the design of the interior is just as important as that of the exterior . Quality and attention to detail are things that are directly felt and experienced every time you get into an automobile. The goal, therefore, is for the design of the exterior to be carried through into the interior, reflecting the character of the vehicle in high-quality, authentic materials. You need to feel a Mercedes, you need to get in and drive it in order to experience the passion with which we have worked on it over a period of many years. The importance of the interior is also demonstrated by the fact that we have set up our own competence centre for interior design.

What's your opinion of green design?
Green design is a mega trend, and one that will occupy us over the coming years. For we already today face the following questions: What can we learn from nature? What new forms will our customers accept? And can you tell how eco-friendly a car is simply by looking at it?

Is there a Mercedes-Benz design philosophy?
Yes, of course. Put simply, a Mercedes is always recognisable as a Mercedes. Its design reflects the brand values - quality, performance, innovation, safety, comfort and excitement, to name but a few. And a Mercedes never looks old, even after 30 years on the road. That's what we call long-life design.

"Form follows function" or "function follows form" - how close, and how early, does the interaction between car design and engineering development need to be?

From the initial idea through to the finished automobile, we are in intensive contact with one another, because our goal is the optimum result in every respect.

Is it important that design should arouse passion in the observer?

For us, it means that we appeal to people directly through the senses and not just through rationality. We therefore make automobiles that exhibit all the highly prized attributes that are typical of Mercedes while, at the same time, displaying a dash of audacity, a breath of irrationality. Nevertheless, a Mercedes never denies that it is a Mercedes. Our intention is to generate enthusiasm - and pride of ownership.

How can you tell whether a design is successful?
What is decisive is the success of an automobile - when many customers decide themselves for the car.

Does the same apply also to future automobiles, which will be subject to new environmental constraints?

Most definitely. Emotive appeal, pride of ownership and driving pleasure will continue in future to belong to the core values of the Mercedes-Benz brand. I promise that it will always be fun to drive a Mercedes, and a Mercedes will always be exciting in appearance, set technological and visual trends and be in demand.

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The interior of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG - PART III


New York/Affalterbach, USA/Germany, Apr 24, 2009

Technical details and appointments: Perfectly tailored for two

The low seating position typical of a sports car, perfect ergonomics and great functionality were the very demanding parameters when developing the interior of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

A seating height of only 369 millimetres above the road surface guarantees
that typical sports car feeling. At the same time the intentionally steep angle of the windscreen ensures good all-round visibility. The feeling of comfortable spaciousness is in large measure due to the generous shoulder-room of 1483 millimetres and elbow room of no less than 1606 millimetres. In conjunction with the generous maximum headroom of 990 millimetres and effective legroom for the driver of 1058 millimetres, the result is a low but extremely relaxed seating position.

Wide-opening swing-wing doors for easy entry even in garages

One important criterion for customer satisfaction is ease of access and egress through the exclusive swing-wing doors. At the design stage great attention was paid to the widest possible opening angle – it is a full 70 degrees. Equally importantly, the distance between the open doors and the road surface is a generous 1.50 metres, while the entry aperture between the open doors and the upper edge of the door sills measures no less than 1.08 metres. The entrance height, i.e. the distance between the road surface and the door sills is a very low 45 centimetres. As another important criterion for dignified access and egress, two gas-pressure struts positioned next to the door hinges require only very little pressure when opening and closing the doors – even at very low ambient temperatures.

The swing-wing doors require less opening space than conventional coupé doors, and can be fully opened in a normal garage. The door is opened from inside by a handle finished in Silver Shadow. The grip section of the armrest moulded into the interior door panel ensures problem-free door closing even for small passengers. The operating keys for the power windows, central locking system and exterior mirror adjustment are also located in the interior door panels for easy access.

Electrically adjustable sports seats with magnesium backrests

The sports seats with integrated head restraints feature so-called two-zone seat cushions. Prominent side bolsters with a harder foam filling provide optimal lateral support, while the inner areas of the seat cushion and backrest are softer for a high level of comfort on long journeys. The backrests are made from magnesium, a high-tech material that combines light weight with high strength. This leads to significant advantages where weight distribution and a low centre of gravity are concerned.

The fore-and-aft position, seat height, backrest angle, seat depth, squab angle and steering column are electrically adjustable, and the side bolsters and lumbar support can also be adjusted. The Memory package allows three individual configurations to be stored. Three-stage seat heating and seat occupany/child seat recognition in the passenger seat are also standard equipment.

The adjustment range of the Performance steering wheel is 60 millimetres axially and 2.3 degrees upwards or downwards – this applies to both manual and electrical adjustment. The 365-millimetre, leather-covered steering wheel features a high-quality full metal insert and a flattened lower rim section whose specially formed cross-section ensures the best possible vehicle control. Metal shift paddles are used to shift the seven gears of the double-declutch transmission. A brief pull on the left (–) or right (+) shift paddle is enough to engage the next gear.

Multifunction keys in the left and right steering wheel spoke allow rapid access to the audio, telephone and navigation functions, as well as the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system. The main manu in the instrument cluster can also be accessed using the ergonomically designed steering wheel keys. The rotary light switch and the keys for the electric parking brake and remote boot lid opening function are located to the left of the Performance sports steering wheel.

AMG DRIVE UNIT with new E-SELECT lever

One of the visual and functional highlights in the interior of the SLSis the solid centre console, which immediately calls an aircraft cockpit to mind. All the central control functions including the AMGDRIVE UNIT, which is inclined towards the driver, are grouped on this striking, solid-metal feature also optionally available in genuine carbon fibre. The new E-SELECT shift lever for the 7-speed sports transmission also has a jet aircraft look: the one-touch drive-by-wire system enables the driver to shift between P, R, N and D extremely rapidly. When the car is stationary, simply pressing the P-key activates the parking position – this also happens automatically when the engine is switched off. To the left are the rotary controls for the transmission's driving modes, including RACESTART, as well as the keys for engine starting, the ESP®functions, the AMGmemory function and the extendable rear aerofoil.

The instrument cluster provides a wealth of information

The instrument cluster is ideally located in the driver's field of vision. The two dial instruments provide information about the vehicle speed and engine speed, and have two small, integrated displays showing the fuel level and the engine oil temperature. When the ignition is switched on, the needles of the rev counter and speedometer simultaneously spin around to their maximum position, then instantly return to zero. Between the dial instruments there is a 4.5-inch central display for information such as the odometer reading, range, fuel consumption, trip mileage, driving time and average speed.

The AMGmain menu not only shows the tyre pressure for each wheel, but also has three modes providing comprehensive driver information: "Warm Up", "Set Up" and "RACE". Warm Up shows the coolant and transmission oil temperature, Set Up shows the currently selected ESP®mode. Race activates the RACETIMER, which enables the driver to measure lap times on the racetrack. All the functions of the central display can be conveniently operated via the multifunction keys in the steering wheel.

Permanently active displays not only include the current gear and the driving mode "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) or "M" (Manual) of the SPEEDSHIFT double-declutch transmission, but also the clock, ambient temperature or digital speed. The information from the navigation system, audio functions and telephone, individual vehicle settings and the ASSYST PLUSservice interval display can also be accessed in the central display.

Bang&Olufsen sound system available on request

The centre console is also desgned with the best possible ergonomics in mind. The upper section has an array of keys for the COMAND APSmultimedia system. All the functions of the radio, DVDplayer, telephone and navigation system can be controlled from here. When switched on, the 7-inch colour display in the dashboard shows the unmistakable AMGlogo for ten seconds – and depending on the function, a high-resolution map or other information such as the radio station, music track or telephone keypad. The Europe-wide navigation system has a 30‑gigabyte hard disc on which the navigation data are stored, which means that route calculation is extremely rapid.

The car radio with integrated CD/DVDplayer features an FM/MW/SW and LW twin tuner with automatic station search, RDS, a 4 x 25 watt amplifier and a total of 6 loudspeakers. In addition, COMAND APSincludes a music server with a memory capacity of 6 gigabytes, which enables the driver to store up to 1000 music files. A DVDplayer for video and audio is also on board, and an integrated 6-disc DVDchanger is available on request. Below the DVDaperture the unit has an adapter that enables various PC memory cards for the reproduction of music files to be used. External audio devices such as an "iPod" can be connected to COMAND APSvia the optional Media Interface.

The new sound system realised by Mercedes-Benz and AMG together with the famous Danish audio specialist Bang&Olufsen was developed specifically for the SLS. The surround-sound system with Dolby Digital 5.1 provides an exclusive listening experience at the highest level. This is not only thanks to the amplifier with a total output of 1000 watts and 11 loudspeakers, but also to the sound processor's precise distribution of the music signals to selectable driver, passenger or central positions. The digital sound processor (DSP) also makes it possible to choose between a high-end studio sound ("Reference") and surround-sound. All the functions are controlled via a special Bang&Olufsen menu in COMAND APS. Particular highlights
are provided by the two 250-watt subwoofers integrated into the parcel shelf and the illuminated 50-watt tweeters on the dashboard.

The Controller directly integrated into the centre console operates the mutimedia system COMAND APS. This turn/push control can be moved in seven directions: turning the controller selects the main menu and submenus on the display, while pushing it activates or confirms the displayed function or setting. The buttons next to the Controller marked with "R" and "C" symbols are used to quit submenus quickly or delete entries.

THERMOTRONIC comfort automatic climate control as standard

Where climatic comfort is concerned, the new swing-wing sports car likewise meets the high expectations that await a super-sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG. The sophisticated THERMOTRONIC two-zone comfort automatic climate control system is included as standard. A powerful air conditioning compressor ensures rapid cooling of the interior; the cooled air flows from the four multi-adjustable vents in the dashboard, two apertures in the A-pillars, three on the windscreen and one in each footwell. Sensors constantly monitor the interior temperature, the temperature of the air flowing from the air vents, the air moisture content and the intensity and angle of the sun. A pollutant sensor recognises excessive carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide concentrations in the outside air, and automatically closes the air recirculation flap if levels of these pollutants increase rapidly.

The interior of the SLSalso impresses with the practical stowage space that makes for the day-to-day suitability typical of a Mercedes. The 3.7-litre glove compartment with a spectacles compartment is integrated into the dashboard on the passenger side. To the right of the E-SELECT shift lever there is a small stowage compartment with a 12 V socket, or an ashtray with cigar lighter. The armrest behind the centre console not only serves for Controller operation: at the touch of a button, the armrest can be moved in two stages to reveal a stowage compartment underneath. This has two cupholders and the telephone cradle (optional), and a holder for the ignition key in the rear section. Other items can be stowed on the rear wall between the seats and in the parcel net in the passenger footwell. Two fixed clothes hooks are attached to the seat backrests, while those in the roof lining fold down and are silicon-insulated.

Eight airbags meet the highest standards in passive safety

The very latest restraint systems meet the traiditionally high standards of
Mercedes-Benz where passive safety is concerned. Three-point seat belts with belt tensioners and belt force limiters are provided as standard for occupants of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. These are complemented with eight airbags: two adaptive airbags for the driver and passenger, a kneebag for each, two seat-integrated sidebags and two separate windowbags deploying from the waistlines of the swing-wing doors.

Overview of the comprehensive standard equipment (selection):

AMG entry sills painted in the vehicle colour
Cord floor mats with AMGlogo
Burglary and theft warning system
Electric parking brake
Headlamp Assist
designo leather upholstery
Rain sensor
Heated seats
Sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with black rubber studs
Cruise control with SPEEDTRONIC

Optional extras include the following:

Bang&Olufsen sound system
DVD changer
Anti-theft warning system
Electric seat adjustment with Memory package
Interior Carbon package
designo Exclusive leather
Media Interface
Seats in natural leather/woven leather

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The interior of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG - PART II


New York/Affalterbach, USA/Germany, Apr 24, 2009

Design: Visionary style

The striking design of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG immediately raises the pulse level: the SLS makes an unmistakable statement with its long bonnet, low greenhouse positioned well to the rear, short rear end with an extendable aerofoil, large wheels, wide track and long wheelbase. Opening the unique swing-doors attracts the eye to an equally sporty interior, creating immediate associations with the dominhant design theme, namely "aircraft engineering". The visionary interior style also represents a new design philosophy for future Mercedes sports cars.

When the swing-wing doors of the Mercedes-Benz SLSAMGgently pivot upwards, the eye is drawn to a wide, wing-shaped dashboard – a clear reference to the aviation-based design. The four prominent air vents resemble the engines of a jet aircraft, while the centre console is in the style of a jet's operating console and the shape if the E-SELECT shift lever recalls the thrust control of a jet. These are perfectly complemented by the concave interior panels of the swing-wing doors, whose high waistlines make for an authentic cockpit feeling. Together with the roof-integrated doors, the high sills and the wide centre console extending well to the rear, they impart a feeling of safety and security. At the same time the interior of the new super-sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG impresses with its puristic functionality and design idiom.

The convex, muscular shape of the dashboard is reminiscent of an aircraft wing. Contrasting decorative seams and fine designo leather provide a high-class look and reinforce the "custom-built" impression. All surfaces such as the interior
door panels and armrests are softly padded, with a pleasant feel. These contrast dramatically with the air vents, which have a metal bezel and an adjustable, cruciform nozzle, and also with the metal centre console. All the major function controls are grouped on this, and the AMGDRIVE UNITinclined towards the driver with the dynamically designed E-SELECT lever for the AMGSPEEDSHIFT double-declutch transmission makes for perfect ergonomics. On request the centre console and other interior components are also available in genuine carbon fibre.

Finished in galvanised Silver Shadow, the instrument cluster has two dial instruments with white backlighting and an upshift indicator using seven LEDs. The silver dials have red needles and a 360 km/h speedometer scale. As a central feature of the cockpit, the multimedia system COMAND APSwith its 7-inch screen is integrated between the two centre air vents. The modern short-stroke control keys require an operating force of only four newtons. All keys and switches are coated in Softtouch paint, which creates a silky sheen and a pleasant feel. Homogeneous illumination of the switch symbols with amber light ensures instant recognition and emphasises the exclusive appearance of the interior when driving at night.

Dynamic steering wheel design and leather in five different colours

An authentic racing car touch is provided by the Performance steering wheel, which has a diameter of only 365 millimetres. The rim has a flattened lower section and an oval cross-section for outstanding vehicle control. The shift paddles and lower insert are of metal. The unmistakable attention to detail for which Mercedes designers are known is very evident in the tasteful colour combinations of the SLSinterior. Five different designo leather colours are available to meet individual preferences: black, classic red, sand, porcelain and light brown. The sports seats with integrated head restraints and sporty transverse fluting are upholstered in designo leather – and two-tone seats are also available in classic red, sand and porcelain. If light brown is chosen as an interior colour, the sports seats are upholstered in natural leather with particularly high-quality woven leather on the centre seat panels. Depending on the colour combination, fluorescent or black piping provides another sporty touch.

The A-pillars, roof lining and parcel shelf are lined in anthracite Alcantara,
heightening the functional and puristic motor sports atmosphere. These surfaces are complemented with the sporty carpeting and cord floor mats with the AMG logo.

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The interior of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG - PART I


The interior of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: Lightweight construction, dynamism and emotion: swing-wing design with a puristic super-sports car interior

New York/Affalterbach, USA/Germany, Apr 24, 2009 – For the new SLS, Mercedes-Benz and AMG have developed a puristic sports car interior that combines lightweight construction with dynamism and high emotional appeal. Opening the unique swing-wing doors reveals an interior of a decidedly sporty nature – and immediately brings an aircraft cockpit to mind. The central design theme of "aviation engineering" is reflected in the wing-shaped dashboard, the centre console in the style of a jet's operating console and the four striking air vents reminiscent of aircraft engines.

The interior of this new swing-wing car offers authentic motor sports practicality, the safety typical of a Mercedes and outstanding ergonomics. Fine materials such as nappa leather, solid metal and (optionally) genuine carbon-fibre facings underline the pronounced "custom-built" nature of the SLS interior, and show enormous attention to detail.

"The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz SLSAMGis not only very special because of the exclusive swing-wing doors. The visible influence of aviation engineering, the high-grade materials and the practicality typical of a sports car will make the hearts of sports car enthusiasts beat faster. At the same time the new interior styling indicates the design philosophy for coming generations of Mercedes sports cars", says Gordon Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz.

Sport, purism, reduction and authenticity are the design emphases for the interior of the new Mercedes-Benz SLSAMG. But above all the design is influenced by the world of aviation – which is clearly demonstrated by the new swing-wing. The
characteristic styling feature is the dashboard, whose powerful and dramatic wing-shape makes for an impression of width. The four air vents with their adjustable, cruciform nozzles are reminiscent of a jet's engines. An aircraft cockpit is also the visual and practical design inspiration for the long "Silver Shadow" centre console in solid metal, in which all the central controls including the AMGDRIVE UNIT, which is inclined towards the driver, are consolidated. On request the centre console and other features are also available in carbon fibre. As a new feature, the E-SELECT shift lever controls the AMGSPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission on the drive-by-wire principle. Its shape immediately calls the thrust control of a jet aircraft to mind, and the same applies to the concave inner panels of the swing-wing doors. The high waistline reinforces the cockpit-like impression, while imparting a feeling of safety and security at the same time.

All the controls are ergonomically grouped around the driver, easy to reach and intuitive to operate. In this respect too, the interior of the SLSis reminiscent of an aircraft cockpit. The logically conceived control and display concept follows well-proven Mercedes principles, easy identification of the major functions and rapid access to frequently used functions being the major attributes.

Interior with an authentic "custom-built" character

Electrically adjustable sports seats with integrated head restraints ensure
excellent lateral support and a high level of comfort on long journeys. The AMGPerformance leather steering wheel in a three-spoke design has a 365-millimetre rim with a flattened lower section, shift paddles and a metal insert, underlining the authentic custom-built look in the same way as the attractive instrument cluster. As standard equipment the SLSfeatures hand-stitched designo leather with a contrasting seam on the dashboard, sports seats, interior door panels and armrests.

Comfort and convenience features include THERMOTRONIC, cruise control with SPEEDTRONIC, PARKTRONIC, a rain sensor, Headlamp Assist and KEYLESS-GO. Even more onboard comfort is ensured by optional extras such as the newly developed Bang&Olufsen sound system, designo Exclusive leather, a DVDchanger, the Media Interface and the Interior Carbon package.

The best possible passive safety for the occupants is ensured by three-point seat belts, belt tensioners, belt force limiters and eight airbags: two adaptive airbags and a kneebag each for the driver and passenger, plus two sidebags integrated into the seats for maximum occupant protection and two separate windowbags that deploy from the door waistline.

The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG will celebrate its market launch in spring 2010.

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