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|1936 belonged to
Auto Union and especially their brilliant young driver Bernd Rosemeyer. The Mercedes W25
was showing its age and Mercedes decided to temporarily withdraw from competition to
reorganize their racing department. Rudolf Uhlenhaut was appointed Technical Director of
the Rennabteilung, or racing department that would work between the Design Office
and the Team Manager, Alfred Neubauer. Uhlenhaut was 30 years old at the
time and decided that the only way for him to fully understand the problems with the Grand
Prix Cars was to drive them himself. Soon he was lapping the Nurburgring at times just
below the drivers. Grand Prix racing was different in those day as the cars were tested
and re-tested constantly prior to the race meeting.
|Once the cars arrived at the race
meeting they were rarely changed and the weekend was used to familiarize the drivers with
the track and local conditions. Uhlenhaut would be in charge of all racing development
until they came to the track where Neubauer would handle race strategy. The most
successful partnership in the history of motor racing had begun.
While testing the W25 Uhlenhaut found
the chassis too week and the springs to stiff! There was very little movement of the axle
against the frame. On one occasion he lost a rear wheel on the straight at top speed. The
car continued on as if nothing happened! He would later remark that "it was like
driving a motorcycle with a sidecar!" The new car for the 1937 season
would be based on the lessons learned during this test period.
The W125 is considered a
development of the W25 and so it should but the changes that Uhlenhaut made had a profound
effect. The suspension was completely redesigned with the idea of providing softer front
suspension than at the rear while keeping the driving wheels upright and at right angles
to the road. The supercharger was modified to suck air through the carburetor rather than
push the air. The old system was called the Druckvergasermotor or
pressure-carburetor engine while the new system was called the Saugvergasermotor or suction-carburetor engine. Capacity was also increased to 5.66 liters.