Fallen Formula 1 legend's most iconic Ferrari selling for millions
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Motorsport punters like poking fun at today's Mercedes-dominated Formula 1 era, often supported with claims of 'it wasn't like this in the good old days'. But, Mercedes — and indeed Red Bull before them — weren't the pioneers of dominance in the sport. For many, that scale of domination started with Ferrari and with Michael Schumacher.
Between 2000 and 2005, Ferrari and Schumacher registered five straight titles; most of which were achieved with a clear-cut margin between first and second. 2002 was one such year; a season where Schumacher achieved 11 wins from 17 starts. If he wasn't winning, he was at least finishing on the podium. By season's end, he had almost twice as many points as his nearest rival (teammate Rubens Barrichello).
Such was the title gap that the championship crown was won at round 11 in France — six rounds from the end of the season.
The Ferrari F2002 that Schumacher steered to the 2002 title crown — his fifth championship out of seven accomplished — is now up for sale at illustrious auction house RM Sotheby's. It's one of the crown jewels of the group's Abu Dhabi sale on November 30, with a portion of the day's proceeds going to the Keep Fighting Foundation; a non-profit designed to keep Schumacher's charity work going in his current absence.
The car in question is known as chassis no. 219. It debuted at the official F1 test at the beginning of the season in Barrichello's hands, before making its first competitive start at April's San Marino Grand Prix. Curiously Barichello used the chassis in qualifying for the Imola event, before swapping with Schumacher for the race itself (a race that he naturally ended up winning).
Other notable wins for this car include the controversial team orders race in Austria; where Barichello was instructed to allow Schumacher past on the final lap for the win. It was also, perhaps critically for its history, the car that Schumacher steered at the French Grand Prix to claim the title.
"After its retirement from competition, chassis 219 was sold by the Scuderia to a Japanese collector, who also purchased chassis 220. Chassis 219 was purchased in 2012 with proceeds going to charity and has been residing in the collection of the consignor ever since," says RM Sotheby's.
"Importantly, following the auction, both the engine and transmission of the F2002 will be completely rebuilt by Ferrari, and this cost will be covered by the consignor.
"The car will be delivered and formally handed over to the winning bidder at Fiorano. Ideal for use in Corse Clienti and other demonstration events, this represents a rare opportunity to purchase one of the ultimate ‘Schumacher-era’ Ferraris—as well as one of the most iconic and successful Formula One designs of all."
More recently, Michael Schumacher's son Mick Schumacher — himself a Formula 1 racer in waiting — recently got to drive the historic chassis. He got to do it at Fiorano no less; Ferrari's private race-track proving ground.
"It was always a dream for me to drive this car, and it was also my first time to drive a Formula 1 car on Fiorano. It was very special," the 20-year-old said.
RM Sotheby's expect the incredible Ferrari to sell for between US$5.5–7.5m — or $8.6m–11.7m in local currency. Given how tightly most owners of these kinds of Formula 1 cars are held onto by owners, the remarkable projected price is no surprise.