The statistics of Lewis Hamilton’s long (and ongoing) F1 career really are astonishing: he’s won 103 times, claimed 104 pole positions and been on the podium 197 times. Nobody else even comes close at this moment in time; Michael Schumacher notched up 91 wins, 68 poles and 155 podiums. He’s one of the greatest sports stars of all time, to put it mildly. And although his career (and championship winning) began at McLaren, it’s Hamilton’s seasons with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team that really secured his legendary status. So the sale of his first GP car with the Silver Arrows, a car from the final season of V8s in the sport, was always going to garner an awful lot of interest.
As it transpired, Hamilton’s F1 W04 sold in an RM Sotheby's auction for $18,815,000 over the weekend, or just less than £15.1m. Never mind that 2013 wasn’t a championship winning year - Lewis took fourth, more than 200 points behind Sebastian Vettel - chassis 04 remains a very significant Formula 1 car. Notably, he drove this one a lot - it wasn’t merely one for testing or used on the odd weekend. In 14 of the 19 races of the 2013 season, Lewis Hamilton drove this car, including four of his five podiums that year.
Moreover, the emotional pull of this car as one of the final Mercedes V8 F1 cars (and the only one sold outside of the MB organisation) shouldn’t be underestimated. Yes, there was a KERS system, previewing the full hybrid that would follow a year later, though it was supporting a 2.4-litre, 18,000rpm, 750hp V8. And there’s really no replicating that. That this car represents Mercedes’ and Hamilton’s first step on the path to utter dominance of Formula 1 will have surely proved pretty persuasive, too. ‘Unrepeatable’ is too often used when trying to sell cars, usually when an old Golf GTI has low mileage, but there really won’t be another opportunity like this. Hence paying the £15m. RM even went as far to suggest that these modern Silver Arrows can be considered the successors to those great grand prix racers of Fangio, Moss and Caracciola; from there it’s not much of a leap to the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut, the most valuable car ever sold at auction. It’s a £15m bargain, basically.
All joking aside, RM’s Las Vegas sale was a successful one when it came to Mercedes Benzes. A CLK GTR Roadster, the third of six ever made and having been driven just 100 miles since 2002, sold for $10m, or just over £8.2m. Still less than a McLaren F1 might cost. A stunning 190E Evo II made more than half a million bucks, a CLK DTM in excess of $700,000. Just the thing for getting to the circuit and taking your F1 car for a drive…
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