MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 15, 2000) -- The mission: to protect every competitor in the Formula One World Championship (F1) by ensuring the safest possible racing conditions. The requirement: an automobile packed with pure power, athletic...
MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 15, 2000) -- The mission: to protect every competitor in the Formula One World Championship (F1) by ensuring the safest possible racing conditions. The requirement: an automobile packed with pure power, athletic agility and razor-sharp reflexes. This is not a task for the faint of heart or the weak of horsepower. In fact, it takes the kind of high-performance, race-bred automobile that Mercedes-Benz and renowned tuner and racing partner AMG have been building together for years.
The latest evolution of that partnership is the sleek CL55 AMG, which serves as the official Safety Car for F1. Lapping race circuits around the globe alongside the Silver Arrows of the championship-defending West McLaren Mercedes of Mika Hakkinen and teammate David Coulthard, the CL55 AMG serves two tasks: to lead the field during caution periods and to test the accuracy of the time-measuring equipment.
Bernd Maylander, who has gained experience as a touring car and GT driver for Mercedes, is the official Safety Car pilot for the 17-race F1 season. "I like this job because it is professional work and requires a lot of sensitivity and concentration. While on television it may look easy, I have enormous pressure on me and have to work very hard."
In addition to enhancing the safety of the participants at each race, there is an added benefit -- for Mercedes-Benz and AMG. In front of millions of spectators and television viewers, the partners gain practical knowledge and experience regarding the durability and performance of their street-legal machines.
"The technical feedback we gain for our production models by using the Safety Car is enormous," Maylander said. "The activity on the race track puts brakes, suspension, engine and gearbox under a lot of stress. It's remarkable what this car has to go through."
The CL55 AMG boasts race-bred features that provide the driver with unparalleled performance, including a powerful 5.5-liter, 354-horsepower V8 engine, anti-squat geometry and massive aluminum disk brakes. The CL55 AMG features Active Body Control (ABC). The ABC system adjusts the damping to the driving situation within seconds by means of high-pressure hydraulics, reducing the car's roll when driving around corners and its pitch under hard braking.
The coupe also proves its performance and reliability when it is used to tune the time-measuring equipment along the F1 race circuits on the Thursday before competition. This task requires driving long distances at maximum speed -- a challenge the engine, drivetrain and suspension have mastered impressively.
"We drive the CL55 AMG absolutely to its limits," Maylander said. "I have a lot of confidence in the car. And it's a lot of fun."
The CL55 AMG will be an integral part of the action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the United States Grand Prix on Sept. 24, as the West McLaren Mercedes team seeks its third consecutive driving championship. The CL55 AMG goes on sale in the U.S. this autumn.