AMG’s profile in F1 goes beyond the use of a CLK 55 as the FIA’s official safety car, the company’s managing director and prominent motorsport personality Domingos Piedade says.

AMG’s profile in F1 goes far beyond the use of a CLK 55 as the FIA’s official safety car, the company’s managing director and prominent motorsport personality Domingos Piedade says.

An occasional commentator for Formula One races, Piedade is a former sporting director of Mercedes, Fiat-Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Joëst-Porsche motor racing teams. He has also managed several prominent F1 drivers, including Emerson Fitipaldi, Walter Rohrl, Michele Alboreto and Ayrton Senna.

Speaking to CARtoday.com at the company’s headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany, recently, Piedade said that AMG had provided four generations of safety cars to the FIA F1 world championship since 1997. Before 1997, AMG vehicles had been used at various grands prix on an ad hoc basis for 13 years.

Piedade was reluctant to disclose how much AMG had to pay F1’s powers that be for the privilege of being the official supplier of grand prix safety cars or the period of the agreement, but he told CARtoday.com that the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary intended to remain a prominent player in F1 events beyond 2006.

Following the first CLK 55 AMG (in 1997), the CL 55 AMG (2000) and the SL 55 AMG (2001), the new CLK 55 AMG safety car is driven by Mercedes-Benz DTM driver Bernd Mayländer.

The safety car intervenes in the event of accidents or adverse weather conditions that jeopardise safety on the race track and, as most F1 fans will remember, the CLK 55 AMG was a prominent feature of the incident-filled Brazilian Grand Prix earlier this month.

At first glance, the main differences between the 2003 safety car and its production counterpart are the F1 logos and the emergency lights on the roof. But to enable communication with race control, the safety car is fitted with a host of equipment, including radio systems as well as several TV cameras mounted inside and outside the vehicle. This extra equipment requires its own power supply with a second alternator and battery.

The car is equipped with two racing-design bucket seats with four-point belts, black/grey leather appointments and a titanium-coloured carbon trim. Modifications were made to the front apron to optimise aerodynamics and aid the cooling system, the fuel tank and pump, suspension and brakes, an AMG spokesman said.

In addition to the supply of the safety car, AMG also provides medical support vehicles for the FIA's Professor Sid Watkins and his team. During a tour of AMG’s production facilities, CARtoday.com photographed a ML 55 AMG medical car (pictured right) being customised with the FIA’s liveries.

AMG customer relations manager Martin Heiss said that AMG-tuned C-Class Estate vehicles would also be made available to the FIA’s medical team.

On the competition side of F1, DaimlerChrysler increased its stake in Ilmor Engineering, the builder of McLaren’s F1 engine, from 25 to 55 per cent in December last year, and has agreed to gradually acquire the remaining shares by 2005.

Ilmor Engineering and DaimlerChrysler have been responsible for the development, design and production of Mercedes-Benz F1 engines since 1993, and the company has now been renamed Mercedes-Ilmor. It was hoped that the partnership would create an opportunity to develop high-performance F1-inspired engines for various other applications.

Original article from Car