There are many unsung heroes in Formula 1. People who do often thankless tasks, but without whom the sport couldn’t function.
Two such people are safety car driver Bernd Maylander and medical car wheelman Alan van der Merwe. Both entertained dreams of racing in F1 earlier in their careers, van der Merwe getting as far a test driver role at BAR – indeed, he holds the top speed record for of an F1 car of 250mph.
While they never landed the dream drive, Maylander and van der Merwe have, nevertheless, found themselves in roles critical to the smooth running of an F1 meeting. And this year they both move into a new office, courtesy of long-time supplier, Mercedes.
After five seasons of service, the old SLS AMG safety car has been retired after it was dropped from the range. It’s road-going replacement, the Mercedes-AMG GT S, takes on big brother’s trackside duties.
504bhp, a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 190mph should be more than enough to keep up the surprisingly high pace needed. It gets carbon ceramic brakes and a roof-mounted airscoop that directs airflow to the rear spoiler, as well.
There’s all the usual safety gear – bucket seats, six-point harnesses – radios, iPad-based race information system and the LED light bar.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 S medical car has the same engine and safety/comms kit, and a boot full of medical equipment for just about any emergency.
Mercedes has been supplying official cars for F1 since 1996, with AMG-fettled SLs, CLKs, SLKs and the SLR McLaren taking safety car duty. Before then, it was supplied by the local organisers and often wasn’t especially suitable.
Anyway, you’ll be seeing a lot of the new motors once the F1 season gets underway in Australia on 15 March.