Seven of the most expensive F1 cars ever sold at auction13 October 2023
Formula 1’s ever-increasing popularity in recent years, owing to the Drive to Survive phenomenon among other factors, has resulted in a variety of classic and modern classic F1 machinery popping up at auction.
Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes. All the big names feature on the list, all of which have gone under the hammer at eye-watering prices, with many eclipsing their significant valuations by some margin.
7. 1993 McLaren MP4/8A – sold for £3.6m in 2018Perhaps rather surprisingly, Ayrton Senna only drove one of the cars on this list. Although it isn’t the car the three-time champion is best remembered for, the McLaren MP4/8A chassis #6 will forever be etched into F1 folklore as the car in which he sealed a record sixth Monaco Grand Prix victory.
Some 25 years after that fateful day at the principality, that very chassis was auctioned by Bonhams – in Monaco no less – selling for £3,606,198. The V8 Cosworth-Ford powered machine allegedly became the first privately-owned McLaren MP4 when team boss Ron Dennis sold it to a collector in 2006.
6. 2010 McLaren MP4-25A – sold for £4.8m in 2021
Chassis #1 of the McLaren MP4-25A line holds many an enviable accolade that undoubtedly buoyed its impressive sale figure. Most notable among these distinctions is that it was the very first Lewis Hamilton-driven F1 car to be offered for public sale. Not only that, but the car’s crowning achievement was victory at the infamous 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, where Hamilton fended off reigning World Champion team mate Jenson Button after the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel collided.
What better place to auction such a car than at the 2021 British Grand Prix, prior to the first-ever F1 Sprint Race? Fully prepared by the McLaren Racing Heritage team, the V8 Mercedes-powered car completed demonstration laps in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 spectators, before selling for £4,836,000.
5. 2002 Ferrari F2002 – sold for £5m in 2019
As one of the most successful F1 cars of all time, it’s no wonder that Ferrari F2002 chassis 219 could command such a price tag.
Having claimed 15 victories (three with this very chassis), 11 pole positions and 15 fastest laps in a 19-race calendar, Schumacher notched his fifth world title in car 219 at the French Grand Prix, making him the first driver to emulate Juan-Manuel Fangio’s seemingly insurmountable championship tally.
The F2002 was the headline act for the first collaboration between RM Sotheby’s and Formula 1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2019, and sold for just over £5 million.
4. 1998 Ferrari F300 – sold for £5.3m in 2022
Although the F300 isn’t a Schumacher/Ferrari championship winner like those it is surrounded by on this list, it did provide a springboard for the partnership that eventually yielded one of the most dominant eras in the sport’s history.
During the 1998 season, Schumacher and the Scuderia were on the backfoot compared to the dominant Mika Häkkinen/McLaren combination, but Chassis 187 achieved something truly special. Taking victory in Canada, France, Great Britain and Italy, this example remains the only Ferrari F1 chassis to have entered at least three races and hold a 100 per cent win rate.
Sold in August of 2022 at a Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, California, this one-of-a-kind car achieved a whopping £5,272,818.
3. 2001 Ferrari F2001 – sold for £5.5m in 2017
The F2001 may not have been as dominant as its successor, the F2002, but it still enjoyed a stellar season in which Schumacher achieved nine race victories – with chassis #211 taking wins at the Hungarian and Monaco Grand Prix – en route to a successful title defence and his fourth Drivers’ Championship.
This example was sold by Sotheby’s in New York in 2017, generating an impressive five-and-a-half million pounds. Like the F2002, a proportion of the sale was donated to Michael Schumacher’s Keep Fighting Foundation.
2. 2003 Ferrari F2003 – sold for £13m in 2022
As the most expensive modern F1 car ever sold at auction, the Ferrari F2003-GA is a special car indeed. This car was introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2003 season and saw the introduction of the GA moniker which was included to honour the memory of former head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli, who had passed away before the car broke cover.
Chassis 229 occupies a spot in a very exclusive club; it is one of only four Ferrari chassis with five or more Schumacher victories in a championship winning season. As if that wasn’t enough, this car enabled Schumacher to claim the outright record for drivers’ titles, becoming the first person in history to achieve six Formula 1 world championships.
The F2003 far exceeded its pre-auction estimates at Sotheby’s Luxury Week sale in Geneva in 2022, eventually selling for £13 million.
1. 1954 Mercedes W196R – sold for £19.6m in 2013
The great Juan Manuel Fangio took the Mercedes W196 chassis #6 to the second of his five Formula 1 titles, claiming victory in Germany and Switzerland. The car itself became the first open-wheel Mercedes F1 example to win in the post-war era. Its pair of victories make it the sole surviving W196 to have won more than one championship qualifying race.
In 2013, when Bonhams listed it for sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, chassis #6 was the only W196 (out of ten) that wasn’t owned by Daimler-Benz or by a museum. At the time of sale, this car not only became the most expensive F1 car ever sold at auction, but it also became the most expensive car of any kind to sell at auction.