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      More than a car: Axalta and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

      © Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

      The Paint Shop for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Brackley, England, looks after painting the cars, but they are also responsible for ensuring that everything from the headset ear caps to the Engineers’ Center Station looks amazing – and they rely on Spies Hecker’s customized solutions for all of it.  

      The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, the reigning FIA Formula One™ Constructors’ Champion, is well-known for its iconic livery on its race cars. Since 2013 the Team has relied on the customized support and tailored product offerings from Spies Hecker.

      For Andrew Moody, Head of Paint and Graphics at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, and his team, the cars are only part of their job. Andrew says, “We paint everything from the ear caps on the mechanics’ headsets to the Monster-branded drinking bottles the drivers and trackside team use.”

      © Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

      At the heart of the garage

      One of the largest pieces painted by the Paint Shop is the Engineers’ Center Station, a mostly aluminium structure at the heart of the garage at every race weekend. This is where each driver’s engineers sit (Race Engineer, Performance Engineer, Tire and Aero Engineers, and Power Unit Engineer). Team Principal & CEO Toto Wolff sits at the head of the Station, where he can see both engineering teams, the cars in the garage and the Pit Wall.

      The predominantly carbon fiber Pit Wall Gantry and the carbon fiber Pit Stop Gantry are also painted by Andrew’s team. The Pit Wall Gantry is where some of the Team’s strategists sit, while the Pit Stop Gantry is the unit outside the garage, which houses the traffic lights for the Pit Stop as well as compressed air line hoses and the trigger wiring to operate the wheel guns.

      Andrew explains, “All three of these are being built up and broken down each race weekend, so we have to ensure the coating is robust, because as they are always in use, it can be difficult for us to find time to refresh the coating during the season. We trust Spies Hecker to give us that confidence in a lasting, durable, good-looking finish.”

      © Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

      Modular, flexible and always looking perfect

      Over the winter, the Paint Shop undertakes the mammoth job of painting six sets of aluminium sandwich panels – one set for the European races, and five for the fly-away races. These are used to create the garage walls, corridors, doors and partitions. As many as 600 panels, which can be as big as 2m x 1m, comprise a totally modular and ultimately flexible system that will fit each garage space on the season’s calendar perfectly.

      The Paint Shop also paints a number of hospitality panels for the fly-away races. This is also a modular system that is built for the team, guests, sponsors, VIPs, drivers and their friends and families. The hospitality area comprises a boardroom, kitchens, as well as dining areas and breakout and relaxation spaces.

      © Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

      Making sure the colors match

      The Paint Shop coats as many as 70 aluminium Monster-branded drinking bottles each season. Painting these is very time-consuming, as everything – the branding, the name, the key lines and the “claw” – is individually airbrushed on each bottle. In order to ensure a perfect color match, Andrew’s team uses the latest Spies Hecker fully digital, wireless, cloud-based color management system. The ColorDialog Phoenix spectrophotometer measures the sponsor’s original color and links via WIFI with the Phoenix Cloud color software, which is able to deliver an accurate color formula. It also links with the IP mixing scale and IP printer.

      © Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

      Spies Hecker everywhere

      The Paint Shop also ensures the Brackley site is always looking its best. Andrew and his team paint factory signage, and the hundreds of Lista cabinets that exist in nearly every department. But that’s not all. He says, “In the past we have even painted the large boardroom table in the Directors’ Suite, so we have to be ready for anything.”

      With such a huge variety of items and substrates, Andrew needs an arsenal of comprehensive products with easy application to meet those challenges. The Paint Shop uses a variety of Spies Hecker products, including Priomat® Wash Primer 4075, then either Permasolid® HS Vario Primer Surfacer 5340, a high solids primer surfacer, or Permasolid® HS Performance Surfacer 5320, a fast drying 2K HS sanding surfacer. The Team’s colour gradients are painted with Permahyd Hi-TEC 480 Basecoat silver – called Stirling Silver – plus four additional silver tones, moving into black. They finish some pieces with Permasolid HS Race Clear 8700.

      “The Paint Shop is such a busy department, we need a paint partner who is up to the task, and Spies Hecker has proven, year in, year out, that it is. We know no matter what we have to paint, there is the right product system available to us to ensure a perfect finish,” Andrew concludes.

      Editor’s note: This story was originally published during the 2019 Formula One™ season. 

      Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team