Lewis Hamilton’s 2010 Turkish Grand Prix-winning McLaren MP4-25A sold for £4,836,000 over the British Grand Prix weekend – but where does that stack up with the most expensive Formula 1 cars ever to have been publicly auctioned?
Saturday at the British GP marked the first time a Lewis Hamilton F1 car had ever been put under the hammer, but it definitely wasn’t the first time a Formula 1 car fetched millions on the block. Read on to find out the top earners.
5. 1993 McLaren MP4/8A – sold for £3.6m in 2018
This McLaren MP4/8A, chassis #6, is the very car in which Ayrton Senna took his record sixth and final Monaco Grand Prix victory. And that was after he crashed it at Ste Devote at approximately 100mph in Thursday practice.
Auctioned 25 years after the Monaco win by Bonhams in 2018, it sold for £3,606,198 – in the Principality itself. Powered by a V8 Cosworth-Ford engine, it was acquired by a collector from McLaren chief Ron Dennis in 2006 and reportedly became the first privately-owned McLaren MP4 car.
Senna also raced with chassis #6 in Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Italy that season to finish second in the championship behind Alain Prost. But Monaco was the race in which Senna stamped this car into the history books.
4. 2010 McLaren MP4-25A – sold for £4.8m in 2021
RM Sotheby’s sold the MP4-25A, chassis #1, for £4,836,000 after the very-first F1 Sprint ahead of the 2021 British Grand Prix.
No Lewis Hamilton car had ever been offered for public sale before this and it nearly achieved a record price for an F1 car at auction. Not only did it take Hamilton to victory in Turkey, he also raced with chassis #1 to P2 at the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix, while Jenson Button took it to P3 in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With the car fully race-prepared by McLaren Racing’s Heritage team, more than 100,000 spectators saw the Mercedes V8-powered machine take to Silverstone in demonstration laps before it went under the block.
Its new owner has the keys to a very formidable machine in their care.
3. 2002 Ferrari F2002 – sold for around £5m in 2019
No slight to the sterling silver McLaren, but who wouldn’t dream of owning a rosso corsa Ferrari F1 car? And a Michael-Schumacher-Grand Prix-winning F1 car at that. The F2002 took 15 wins, 11 poles and 15 fastest laps over the 19-race 2002 season and this one, chassis #219, sold for $6,643,750 or just over £5 million when it was auctioned at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
This chassis was tested in March 2002 at Barcelona by Rubens Barrichello before Schumacher took it to victory at San Marino, Austria, and France – clinching his fifth drivers’ title there – before another win in Hungary.
Undeniably one of the most successful Formula 1 cars ever, yet it was eclipsed at auction by…
2. 2001 Ferrari F2001 – sold for around £5.5m in 2017
…its predecessor. The Ferrari F2001, chassis #211, beat its estimate by $2 million to sell for a total of $7,504,000 at an RM Sotheby’s New York auction in 2017. This one was taken to victory by Schumacher at the 2001 Monaco and Hungary Grands Prix, also being tested by Schumacher, test driver Luca Badoer and Barrichello at Mugello in February 2002.
As with the F2002, a proportion of the sale went to Michael Schumacher’s Keep Fighting Foundation.
The result of the auction meant that this car broke the record for being the most expensive modern F1 car ever to be sold in a public auction, but there was a machine whose price tag knocked this one out of the park.
1. 1954 Mercedes W196R – sold for £19.6m in 2013
The car in which Juan Manuel Fangio took the second of his five Formula 1 titles is not only the most expensive F1 car ever to be publicly auctioned, but back in July 2013, it smashed the record to become the most expensive car at auction overall when Bonhams put it under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
For $29,650,095 or £19,601,500, its new owner picked up a piece of Grand Prix history. Mercedes W196 chassis #6 won at the hands of Fangio in Germany and Switzerland, before Hans Hermann took it to P4 in Italy.
This car is the symbol of the Silver Arrows’ first successful foray into F1. Six decades later, Hamilton was on his way to a second championship to begin a new era of Mercedes dominance.