Former Mercedes boss Hubbert dies aged 81

Former Mercedes executive Jurgen Hubbert, a key player behind the marque's move into the DTM and Formula 1, has died at the age of 81.

Former Mercedes boss Hubbert dies aged 81

It was on Hubert's watch that Mercedes joined forces with McLaren, creating a partnership that would win two world championships with Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and 1999, and a third with Lewis Hamilton in 2008.

"Deeply saddened to hear the news of our friend and family member Jurgen," Hamilton noted in an Instagram post today.

"He was such a racer at heart and I enjoyed our chats and his enthusiasm [for] racing. His commitment to Mercedes and the team over the years was inspiring."  

Born in 1939, Hubbert graduated in engineering from the University of Stuttgart in 1965, and he joined Daimler-Benz that year.

He moved through the ranks quickly, holding various senior roles at the Sindelfingen plant, and by 1987 he became a deputy member of the board of management of Mercedes cars.

On reviewing the state of the company Hubbert decided that motor sport was the way forward. Mercedes had not fully embraced an official involvement in racing since 1955, so it was a huge step.

"When I looked at the situation the company was in it became clear to me that we had got ourselves into some difficulties," he noted in 2018.

"Due to an ongoing internal debate, we had been neglecting our vehicles. The focus was on becoming an ‘Integrated Technology Group.'

"I hoped that we could polish up the image of the brand by means of motor sport activities. I remembered the 1950s, when I was still at school and took a lively interest in the sport, and I also looked back to the 1930s.

"There were always times when the company was not doing all that well and it was motor sport that gave the brand an extra push.

"It had worked on those occasions, and I had something like that at the back of my mind."

Mercedes became officially involved with the revamped DTM in 1988, in parallel with increasing support of Peter Sauber's World Sportscar Championship team.

That morphed into a full works Silver Arrows effort – and brought the marque titles in 1989 and 1990, along with a Le Mans win in the former season.

With a return to grand prix racing on the horizon Hubbert hired former journalist Norbert Haug to head up the motorsport programmes.

However, the plan to move into F1 with Sauber-run works team – which would have involved Michael Schumacher – was shelved.

Nevertheless Mercedes still gave the Swiss outfit low-key support in 1993-‘94, before replacing Peugeot as McLaren's engine partner in 1995.

"It didn't work out at all," Hubbert recalled. "We just went from one setback to another. Cars in which the engine blew up on the home straight on the penultimate lap - and in front of massive audiences.

"Then in 1997, Ron [Dennis] said, ‘It's coming, it's coming! You can smell it!' And I thought, ‘What's he on about?'

"And then we won in Australia. That was 1997 - the first Mercedes win - with David Coulthard at the wheel. And next year, we finished as World Champions."

Hubbert took on a more senior management role within Daimler while also becoming a powerful figure behind the scenes in F1. He was one of the key players behind the GPWC, the aborted attempt by the manufacturers to break away from Bernie Ecclestone.

He continued to be a big supporter of McLaren even after his retirement in 2004.

During his tenure with Mercedes he had a huge impact on its road cars, overseeing the introduction of the A-class, M-class and CLK, as well as the birth of the Smart car range.

He also found time to pursue an academic career, teaching engineering at the Technical University of Karlsruhe.

Paying tribute to his contribution, current Mercedes and Daimler chairman Ola Kallenius said: "Jurgen Hubbert was Mister Mercedes. With integrity, innovative spirit and great success, he shaped Mercedes-Benz forever.

"As a leader, he was able to integrate and motivate his teams with a passion for technology and the highest standards for himself.

"He is forever assured of the appreciation of the entire Mercedes family. In gratitude for his many years of good work, we will honour his memory."

President and CEO of F1 owner Liberty Media, Stefano Domenicali, stated: "All of us at Formula 1 are deeply saddened to hear that Jurgen Hubbert has passed away. He was an incredible man and a friend and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family at this time."

shares
comments

Related video

Magnussen: Reputation for Hulkenberg comment "annoying"

Previous article

Magnussen: Reputation for Hulkenberg comment "annoying"

Next article

The V12 experiment that powered Senna to his final F1 title

The V12 experiment that powered Senna to his final F1 title
Load comments
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021