Hit the track in Schumacher’s first Benetton
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The first Benetton to be driven by seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher will be go under the hammer on 21 May in The Spa Classic sale by Bonhams Auctions - a fitting location for both the car and Schumacher's racing history.
Benetton started the 1991 championship with Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno, but after Schumacher made a stellar F1 debut at the 1991 Belgian GP for team Jordan-Ford, Benetton made the decision to swap Moreno for the young German who would contest the final five rounds of the season – a move that would result in a world championship three years later.
In the 1991 Belgian GP Schumacher qualified seventh, one spot behind Nelson Piquet who on the day was driving the car offered in the Bonhams auction.
Latter in the season the 1991 B191 Benetton took victory in the Canadian GP with Piquet at the wheel, stealing victory from Nigel Mansell who stalled his V10 Williams-Renault while waving to the crowed at the final hairpin on the final lap of the race.
The last round of the season was on the streets of Adelaide with Schumacher at the wheel of the Benetton up for auction.
Benetton actually started the 1991 season with an ‘updated’ version of their 1990 B190 car, dubbed the B190B. It was replaced at the third round of the championship with the B191.
Designed by John Barnard, the B191 was the first “nose-up” design from the UK-based team, and featured a chassis with small updates to the bodywork and suspension.
The 1991 car is powered by a 3.5-litre Ford Coswoth naturally aspirated V8 producing 484kW (650hp) at 13,000rpm. The B191 is also one of the F1 cars to compete with a manual gearbox.
The whole powertrain sits in a carbon-composite monocoque chassis that is said to weighs in at just 505kg’s.
After the 1991 season this car became a museum exhibit. In 2016, it underwent a complete rebuild including an overhaul of the engine, gearbox, chassis and safety equipment.
It’s now completely restored to original condition, with an exception of updated security features required by modern FIA regulations.
Due to the limited use of electronic aids and systems used in F1 cars from this era, this Benetton as usable as it gets in terms of modern F1 standards.
Schumacher’s first Benetton is tipped to sell for between $1.2 - $1.5 million in local currency.