The most expensive Formula 1 car sold at auction remains driver Juan Manuel Fangio’s Grand Prix–winning car, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 sold by Bonham’s at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013 for $29,650,095. While it’s still a long way from that winning bid, the sale of Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at RM Sotheby’s Official Auction of the Las Vegas Grand Prix suggests that the market is growing for modern-era F1 race cars.
Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas W04, which he drove during the 2013 season, his first with the team, was sold by RM Sotheby’s on November 17, 2023, for a whopping $18.815 million. The auction, held in Las Vegas on the same weekend as the Formula 1 race, was helmed by late-night TV presenter James Corden.
“Previously, the modern F1 car record belonged to an ex-Michael Schumacher 2003 Ferrari F1, which sold 12 months ago for $14.9 million. Schumacher’s driving record and prior sales had established his Ferrari F1 cars as the most valuable,” said John Wiley, Hagerty manager of valuation analytics.
“A Mercedes raced by Lewis Hamilton for the 2013 season had the potential to be very collectible, but was unknown, and that uncertainty was reflected in RM Sotheby’s wide ($10 million to $15 million) estimate. Given that the winning bid was well above that high estimate, it shows the collectibility of Hamilton’s F1 cars and establishes modern F1 cars as the new hot segment,” Wiley said.
It’s unclear, though, if and when another Hamilton car will appear at public auction. This particular car is the only Mercedes-AMG Petronas car that was not owned by the team, by the team’s CEO, Toto Wolff, or by Hamilton himself. The car was made more valuable since it has the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter V-8 which is reportedly to be fully operable; in 2014, the year after this car was made, the series moved to V-6 engines. Hamilton drove this car in 14 of 19 races.
It was the car which Hamilton drove to his first win for Mercedes, the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix. He finished fourth in points that year, which saw Sebastian Vettel take the championship.
Report by Steven Cole Smith
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