Mourning for Mercedes: Jürgen Hubert is dead
Under Hubert’s eyes, Mercedes joined the McLaren team, creating a partnership that would lead to two world championships with Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and 1999, and a third with Lewis Hamilton in 2008..
Born in 1939, Hubert graduated in engineering from the University of Stuttgart in 1965 and joined Daimler-Benz in the same year.
He quickly moved through the ranks, occupying various senior positions at the Sindelfingen plant, and in 1987 he became an alternate member of the Mercedes Board of Directors.
After reviewing the company’s case, Hubert decided motorsport was the way forward. Mercedes hadn’t fully embraced official racing participation since 1955, so it was a big step.
He said in 2018: “When I looked at the situation the company was in, it became clear to me that we were in trouble. Because of the constant internal controversy, we had neglected our cars… to become a“ complete technological package ”.
“I was hoping that we could improve the brand’s image through sporting activities. I remembered the 1950s, when I was still in school and had a passion for the sport, and I also looked back to the 1930s.”
“There were always times when the company wasn’t doing well and it was motorsport that gave the brand an extra boost. On those occasions it succeeded, and I had something like that in mind.”
Mercedes officially participated in the revamped DTM in 1988, in parallel with Peter Sauber’s growing support for the World Sportscar Championship team.
This turned into a full-on effort in Silver Arrows – and held the manufacturers’ titles in 1989 and 1990, along with wins at Le Mans the previous season.
With a return to the Grand Prix on the horizon, Hubert enlisted former journalist Norbert Haug to head Mercedes’ motorsport programs.
However, the F1 entry plan with the Sauber plant team – which will include Michael Schumacher – has been postponed.
Nevertheless, Mercedes continued to give the Swiss team low-level support in 1993-1994, before replacing Peugeot as McLaren’s engine partner in 1995.
“It didn’t work at all,” Hubert recalls. “We went from setback to setback. Cars in which the engine blew straight up on the penultimate lap – and in front of a large crowd.”
Then, in 1997, Ron [Dennis] He said: It’s coming, it’s coming! You can smell it. And I thought, “What are you talking about?”
“And then we won in Australia. That was in 1997 – the first win for Mercedes – with David Coulthard at the wheel. And the following year we finished the World Cup.
Then Hubert took on a more executive role within Daimler, and also became a powerful behind-the-scenes figure in Formula One. He was one of the champions of GPWC, the failed manufacturers’ attempt to split from Bernie Ecclestone.
He continued to be a huge supporter of McLaren even after he retired in 2004.
During his tenure with Mercedes, he had a major influence on road cars, overseeing the introduction of the A-Class, M-Class and CLK, as well as the emergence of the Smart Group.
He also found time to pursue an academic career, teaching engineering at Karlsruhe Technical University.
Honoring his contribution, the current president of Mercedes and Daimler, Ola Kallenius said: “Jürgen Hubert was Mr. Mercedes. With integrity, creative 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 to the highest standards for himself.”
“He is forever sure that the entire Mercedes family will be valued. Grateful for many years of good work, we will honor his memory.”
“Explorer. Devoted travel specialist. Web expert. Organizer. Social media geek. Coffee enthusiast. Extreme troublemaker. Food trailblazer. Total bacon buff.”