Ferrari vs Mercedes has been a battle within Formula 1 since the German team’s first entry into the sport in 1954. The iconic sides share a legendary rivalry, especially at the Monza Grand Prix. Discover the history of it all here.
Image: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton battling. Credit - Fuji.tim, Flickr
Two of Formula 1’s most iconic teams, Ferrari and Mercedes, have achieved a tremendous amount of success. All time, Ferrari are the most accomplished side, but recent years have seen Mercedes return to F1 and dominate.
Over the years, the rivalry between these two teams has only grown more intense. Both Ferrari and Mercedes have experienced periods of dominance in Formula 1, with each team pushing the other to new heights of performance. And while the rivalry may be fierce, there is a deep respect between these two teams, as they both strive to be the best in the sport.
One place where the two are really head-to-head is the Monza Grand Prix. The iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza circuit has played host to some very memorable moments across its tenure on the F1 calendar.
The two teams are amongst the most successful in the Grands Prix history, but who has got one over on the other? Discover the history of the legendary rivalry of Ferrari vs Mercedes here.
The Origins of the Ferrari vs Mercedes Rivalry
The rivalry between Ferrari and Mercedes in Formula 1 racing is one of the most storied and intense in the history of the sport. It has its roots in the early days of Formula 1, with both being part of the first decade of F1.
The first time Ferrari and Mercedes faced off against each other in Formula 1 was in 1954 at the French Grand Prix. At the time, Ferrari was the dominant team in the sport, having won the championship the previous year. However, Mercedes quickly proved to be a formidable opponent, winning its first race of the season and going on to win the championship that year.
Scuderia Ferrari was founded in 1929 by Enzo Ferrari and initially only entered amateur drivers in various races.
Ferrari has a strong tie to a lot of teams in F1, having been a team themselves but also an engine and chassis constructor for teams such as Alfa Romeo and Red Bull.
The early years in Formula 1 saw Ferrari competing strongly, winning their first race at the 1952 British Grand Prix.
They have experienced the most success in Formula 1, winning 241 races, 16 Constructors’ Championships and 15 Drivers’ Championships.
Mercedes’ roots in motorsport began well before Formula 1, with the German outfit competing in the European Championship in the 1930s.
They joined the Formula 1 grid in 1954 and instantly experienced success, winning their very first race and eventually the 1954 season Drivers’ title (the Constructors’ Championship had not been formed yet).
The next season, they won five of the seven races and yet again helped legendary driver Juan Manuel Fangio to another title.
But this would be the end of the Mercedes-Benz team in Formula 1 until 2010, when they returned to the grid and soon picked up where they left off, dominating the sport during the turbo-hybrid era from 2014 to 2021, winning eight constructors titles in that time.
Monza is a legendary motorsport circuit and the Monza Grand Prix is one of the oldest races in Formula 1, having been held every year since 1950.
The first time Mercedes and Ferrari faced off at the circuit was in the 1954 season. Each year in F1 to that point, the Monza Grand Prix had been won by an Italian car, with Ferrari winning in 1951 and 1952.
However, in Mercedes’ first season in Formula 1, they showed to be the new powerhouse of the sport (or would have if they had continued), winning in their first race and then beating Ferrari in their own garden, with Mercs Juan Manuel Fangio pipping Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari to the 1954 Monza GP chequered flag by just 0.2 seconds.
The next year came with the same result, - Fangio winning in his Mercedes - only this time, the German team completely occupied the podium Stirling Moss and Karl Kling came home in their Mercedes in second and third.
Thankfully for Ferrari and the Tifosi (Ferrari supporters), Mercedes disappeared after 1955. But they would be back many years later to dominate the temple of speed once again.
Monza Grand Prix: The Battleground for Supremacy
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, or simply just Monza, is one of the most iconic circuits in Formula 1. It is the quickest track on the calendar, and as such it provides an incredible spectacle in almost every race.
The Monza track is only 5.793 km in length, producing a fast 1.25-minute lap time in the modern cars. It comprises just 11 turns and features three chicanes, including the Variante Ascari, a fast chicane that comes at the beginning of the last sector of the lap.
In the modern cars, a lot of the corners are taken flat out or with minimal lift out. The Curva di Lesmo is made up of two fast but tight right-handers that the drivers can keep their foot down round to set them up for top speed down Curva del Serraglio.
As the circuit only has six corner complexes, teams and drivers will set up their cars for maximum performance on the straights.
Ferrari and Mercedes at Monza
Ferrari is the most successful constructor at their home grand prix with 19 wins, the first coming in 1951 and the last in 2019.
Mercedes has only got seven wins at Monza, however, that is seven wins in 15 races, so a 47% win percentage at the circuit. However, Ferrari has a win more recently than them, as Merc’s last victory was in 2018.
In terms of the two teams as engine manufacturers in Formula 1, you can add another one race win for Ferrari and another six for Mercedes, making it 20 overall for Ferrari and 13 for Mercedes.
The Ferrari vs Mercedes Rivalry: A Look Back at the Key Moments
The Mercedes vs Ferrari rivalry first started in Mercedes’ brief original spell as a team in Formula 1, with the Silver Arrows beating the Italian outfit in both years of their original run.
It was a long time then without Mercedes in Formula 1, but they returned to glory in 1998 and 1999 when they came back to supply engines for the McLaren team, powering them to consecutive titles in those years with Mika Hakkinen at the wheel.
His two victories prevented Ferrari’s new star and future great Michael Schumacher from starting his and the teams’ dominance early, but they could only do it for those two years, as from 2000-2004, Ferrari and Schumacher dominated F1 with five straight titles.
The rivalry then didn’t return until the modern era. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel moved from Red Bull, the team who had brought him all his success and went to Ferrari in 2015.
Mercedes had shown in 2014 that they were going to be the new powerhouse in Formula 1. Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 and 2015 championships, while his teammate Nico Rosberg won in 2016.
2017 finally saw Ferrari competing properly for wins again after challenging Red Bull in the early 2010s. For the next three seasons, Vettel and Hamilton would develop one of the greatest rivalries in Formula 1 history as the two drivers pushed each other to their absolute limits, with the Brit getting the most of the German each year.
The F1 battle for supremacy between these two teams has produced an all-time great rivalry. Although Williams and McLaren hold more Constructors’ titles than Mercedes, most fans would say that the real fight for the best constructor in F1 racing history is between the Italian and German manufacturers.
Monza Grand Prix 2023: Who Will Win the Battle for Supremacy?
2023 will be a very interesting year for the sport. The second year of the new ground effects era will see many cars coming with new and/ or updated designs to be able to challenge better.
Mercedes will be looking to build upon a very disappointing 2022 season. With just the one win, they struggled the majority of the year with the new porpoising issue that caused them to bounce along and not truly be able to get the most out of their car.
They managed to sort it out largely towards the end of the season, doing enough to score a one-two finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and they will hope that in 2023 they will be able to compete immediately.
As for Ferrari, their biggest issue was reliability, as they had far too many issues that cost Carlos Sainz but mainly Charles Leclerc valuable points that could have seen him challenge Max Verstappen and Red Bull better for both championships.
If both teams can sort out their issues for the 2023 season, we are in for a very exciting three-team battle for the championships.
At the Monza Grand Prix, the Ferrari’s will be spurred on as usual by the devoted Tifosi. Should they have a winning car, the smart bets would be on them winning, maybe specifically Leclerc getting his second Monza victory.
However, the same can be said for Mercedes. They are fantastic at developing their car throughout the year. If they already have a winning car during the first part of the season, they will be strong and favourites at many races in the second part.
But we can’t count out Max Verstappen and Red Bull, who won last year despite Charles Leclerc starting in the pole position.
They had the strongest car last year, storming to one of the easiest double championship victories in F1 racing history.
The Monza Grand Prix is one of the most desirable races to attend on the F1 calendar. The fast racing coupled with the unmatched passionate atmosphere from the Tifosi makes this race an absolute must-see.
If you’re interested in going to the 2023 Monza Grand Prix, why not look to treat yourself to a premium hospitality package to provide you with the ultimate Monza experience?
Choosing the best place to watch the race can be a difficult task as every viewing area at Monza provides action. But going for a hospitality package ensures you are getting the very best views at all times, whilst also getting the most between sessions.
2023 Monza Grand Prix tickets are available to purchase now. Get yours now so you can witness the resumption of the Mercedes vs Ferrari rivalry this season.Buy Monza Grand Prix hospitality