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This life beyond the racetrack plays out in Plüderhausen, seven kilometers towards Schwäbisch Gmünd. About a year ago Mayländer moved there with his wife Myriam. The two have known each other for 17 years and have been a couple for two-and-a-half years. Their renovated house from the 1990s is situated on a south-facing slope; it looks solid. That’s the way they’re built in Swabia. At best, the white Mercedes- AMG GT S, the company car in the garage, could cause a stir. In the house there is little to remind you of its owner’s profession. Only a few model cars behind the glass door of the living room cabinet provide an indication. “I love motorsport, but I don’t want it to dominate my private life here,” says Mayländer. The racing driver Bernd Mayländer has his empire on the ground floor: Bernd Mayländer Motorsport GmbH resides in two bright rooms. Here he collects trophies, pictures, memories. To date the Swabian has driven around 50 race cars, 30 of which are scattered across the two rooms as models in a variety of scales. For nearly 17 years Bernd Mayländer has driven the Formula 1 safety car. Charlie Whiting, race director of the FIA, hired Mayländer in 1999 for the Formula 3000. A year later the German also took over the safety car in Formula 1 from Englishman Oliver Gavin. He had not expected this offer: “I was scheduled for Le Mans, was totally focussed on my cup races and had to find new sponsors at the same time. I had a head full of a thousand other things.” His first assignment was in 2000 in Melbourne. His car: a Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG. “The conversions were really limited,” he recalls. “We only had a handheld radio and sat on standard leather seats.” After the race Mayländer drove the car on the motorway to Stuttgart. Over the years, the service vehicles have changed, but the job has remained the same. Debris on the roadway or too much water – if it’s dangerous, Mayländer is called into action. Today he puts himself in front of the pack in a Mercedes-AMG GT S and controls the pace. On television, it looks relatively leisurely. “You pretty much have to step on the gas when you’re doing it,” he says. Sauntering along at 250 kilometers per hour. The safety car shouldn’t go too slowly, else the vehicle’s tires would cool down too much. Even if it could, the Mercedes-AMG GT S doesn’t have to push the envelope as much as its predecessors. “The potential of this car is enormous,” says Mayländer. “You can even stay a bit under the limit in it without hurting the race cars too much.” The GT S driven by Mayländer in this capacity is also a production car, which loses just a few seconds per kilometer to an F1 racer. Like so many racers, Bernd Mayländer also grew up in a family of racing fans, surrounded by beautiful cars. His mother Erika drove a Karmann Ghia, his father Horst a BMW 2002 Tii. Together with his parents he sat in the grandstands in Hockenheim in 1977 during Niki Lauda’s Formula 1 Grand Prix victory and cheered on his idols. While on holiday on Lake Maggiore, he and his father didn’t go to the beach but to the kart track at Magadino. Occasionally at first, later more frequently. Eventually his own DAP kart sat in the yard. “That wasn’t sport,” Mayländer says today, “just a plaything for father and son.” While colleagues of the same age raced regularly, after school Bernd began work experience as an industrial clerk. The family had bottled Coca-Cola since the 1950s. In 1972, the Hermine spring in Urbach, named after Mayländers grandmother, was added. “The job was a lot of fun for me,” says Mayländer. Business life suited him, the technology in the plant was interesting, but with his driver’s license came the excursions to the Nordschleife, the first small races a short while later. After work experience came alternative community service in the Zivildienst and at the same time a little more racing: Formula Ford, Carrera Cup, during the week he worked in the Red Cross nursing service in Schorndorf. “The 15 months of community service totally grounded me.” After a strong season in the Carrera Cup and winning the championship, in 1995 Norbert Haug summoned the young man from Schondorf, only just turned 23, to Mercedes-Benz in the DTM. A completely new world. He could drive cars, win races too. Yet everything was new, and he was in the middle of it. “For the first time I had a professional environment, a fitness trainer and a strict program. It was The First The first Formula 1 safety car that Bernd Mayländer inherited from Oliver Gavin in the 2000 season was a Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG. A V8 engine, 360 hp, top speed of 280 kilometers per hour, from 0 to 100 in six seconds. The Mercedes-AMG safety cars 1996–97 Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG 1997–98 Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG 1999–2000 Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG 2001–02 Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG 2004–05 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG 2006–07 Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG 2008–09 Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG 2010–12 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2012–14 Mercedes-AMG SLS GT since 2015 Mercedes-AMG GT S 69


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