In a historic moment at the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, the car that propelled Lewis Hamilton to his first Formula One victory for Mercedes found a new owner, fetching an astounding $18.8 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction. The sale, held at the Awakening Theater in the Wynn Las Vegas hotel, not only marked a record for modern F1 cars but added a new chapter to the rising trend of decommissioned race cars captivating private collectors.
The spotlight of the auction shone on the Mercedes F1 car, known by its chassis No. W04, driven by Lewis Hamilton during his triumphant win at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2013. This victory marked a significant milestone in Hamilton’s career, and the car’s sale stirred excitement as it became the first of its kind from the modern era not owned by Mercedes, team principal Toto Wolff, or Hamilton himself.
The auction at RM Sotheby’s in Las Vegas witnessed a hammer price of $17.1 million plus a 10% buyer’s premium, totaling $18.8 million. This staggering amount surpassed initial estimates, with RM Sotheby’s projecting a value between $10 million and $15 million. The sale took place against the vibrant backdrop of the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, within the unique setting of the Awakening Theater.
Shelby Myers, the global head of private sales for RM Sotheby’s, drew parallels between Hamilton’s connection to the W04 and iconic sports teams and players throughout history. Comparing it to the likes of Michael Jordan with the Bulls, Tom Brady with the Patriots, or Lionel Messi with Argentina, Myers highlighted the symbolic significance of this F1 car in the world of motorsports.
The sale of Hamilton’s F1 car adds to the growing trend of decommissioned race cars becoming sought-after collectibles among private enthusiasts. This trend echoes the 2017 sale of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F2001 for $7.5 million and the recent sale of another Schumacher Ferrari, the F2003-GA, for almost $15 million in 2022, setting a previous record for modern F1 cars.
While the W04 set a record for modern F1 cars, the title of the most expensive race car ever sold still belongs to the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. This iconic vehicle commanded a staggering $29.6 million at a Bonhams auction in 2013, reaffirming the timeless allure of historic race cars.
As the gavel fell on the sale, the identity of the new owner remained undisclosed. RM Sotheby’s spokesperson declined to specify the buyer. The allure of owning a piece of F1 history, particularly associated with a legendary driver like Hamilton, adds to the mystique and appeal for collectors seeking these exceptional racing artifacts.
The sale of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car at a record-breaking price reflects the reverence and fascination for the legacies crafted on the race tracks. Private collectors worldwide continue to embrace decommissioned race cars as more than machines; they are tangible pieces of motorsport history, encapsulating the triumphs of legendary drivers and their teams.