Michael Schumacher’s Sauber Mercedes C11 Plays On The Track: Video
Just about any time that you’re looking at a race car with Michael Schumacher’s name on it, it’s going to be a beast. And the Sauber-Mercedes C11 in this video is definitely no exception. The car was built in 1990 to replace the C9 (the name C10 wasn’t used because C and 10 sound pretty much the same in German), which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989. The C9’s 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 was used again in this car, where it produced 730 horsepower, quite a lot for a car that weighed just under 2,000 pounds.
The light weight came in part from the carbon-kevlar monocoque, which was cutting-edge material science at the time. But that’s not what you’re likely to be thinking about when you watch the video, you will be thinking about how it sounds, which is amazing. And as good as it sounds when it’s started up at the beginning of the video, it’s once it heads out onto the track that it really starts to sing. And even 25 years on, it still looks pretty damn fast as well. It is, after all, a car with a 253-mph top speed.
The Sauber C9 was a Group C racer built for the World Sports Car Championships. In 1989, that included the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so the car raced there and won, that being the last time a Mercedes took first at Le Mans. Le Mans wasn’t part of the championship in 1990, so the new C11 didn’t race there that year. But it came back to the race in 1991, with none other than Michael Schumacher (who would go on to become a Formula 1 legend a few years later) behind the wheel. The car did reasonably well, with a fifth-place overall finish. And when you consider it was up against the monstrous Jaguar XJR-12 and the legendary 1991 Mazda 787B that year, that’s not bad. It even finished ahead of the No.18 Mazdaspeed-Oreca 787B, if only just. It’s an impressive machine, just one that had a sadly short racing career.