Honda website
Honda website

FEBRUARY 10, 2004

Helmut Werner

Helmut Werner, the chairman of Mercedes-Benz AG between 1993 and 1997 and the man who has championed the company's involvement in top level motorsport - has died at the age of 67. Werner died in hospital in Berlin.

Born in Cologne in 1936, Werner learned the art of management running the Continental tyre company. He moved to Mercedes-Benz in 1987, to run the firm's heavy truck division but then switched to be head of Mercedes-Benz cars in 1993. When he took over the company was in deep debt but Werner's cutbacks and marketing pulled it through and set it on the path for expansion, notably with the construction of the first Mercedes factory in the United States, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In 1997 Werner lost out to Jurgen Schrempp in the contest to head Daimler-Benz and not long afterwards he left the company, having opposed Schrempp's takeover of Chrysler. He was replaced by current incumbent Jurgen Hubbert.

Werner built up a close relationship with Bernie Ecclestonme during his period in charge of Mercedes-Benz and in 1998 was mentioned as the man most likely to be the chairman of Formula One Holdings when it was floated. That flotation never went ahead but Werener was still mentioned from time to time as a possible chief executive for F1 after Ecclestone.