Legendary Michael Schumacher Ferrari chassis to be auctioned

Oliver Harden
Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. 2006

Close-up shot of Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. 2006

The Ferrari F1 car that the legendary Michael Schumacher drove to victory in the 2002 Australian Grand Prix is to be auctioned later this month.

The Chassis 215 specification of the F2001B car, which appeared in the opening two rounds of Schumacher’s fifth title-winning season, is to go on sale in the Californian city of Monterey between August 16-19.

It comes almost a year after another of Schumacher’s former cars, a Ferrari F2003GA, was auctioned for $13.2million in what was the second-highest sale ever for an F1 car.

Michael Schumacher’s iconic Ferrari to be sold

The all-time record still belongs to five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954-specification Mercedes W196R, which was sold for an eye-watering $29.6m in July 2013.

Built to F1’s regulations at the time, with a V10 engine capable of producing almost 900 horsepower at 18,500rpm, a seven-speed sequential gearbox and weighing just 600 kilograms, the car is set to spark huge interest among potential buyers.

Schumacher himself has not been seen in public since suffering brain injuries in a skiing accident at the French resort of Meribel in December 2013.

The auctioneers, Sotheby’s Sealed, said of the car: “Chassis 215 is one of few machines to never finish outside the podium positions during its competition career.

“That it was piloted to victory by perhaps the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, driving for arguably the most famous team in the world of motorsport, ranks it among the most desirable modern grand prix cars in existence.”

It added: “Its public offering presents a vanishingly rare opportunity to acquire a racing car of true historic significance: one that not only carried Schumacher to a famous victory but which played a pivotal role in securing his historic fifth Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship.”

Schumacher’s success came in an era when teams would regularly start a new season with the previous year’s design as they waited for the new car to arrive, with the Ferrari driver commenting early in the year that the F12001B had set a high bar for the soon-to-arrive F2002.

“We would like to use the new car as soon as possible, but only if it is better than this one and reliable,” he said.

The Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park track was the first of 11 victories Schumacher would secure in 17 races in 2002, with the German scoring almost double the amount of points of Ferrari team-mate and runner-up Rubens Barrichello.

Schumacher missed out on pole position to Barrichello by the slender margin of 0.005 seconds in Australia, but was victorious on race day after Barrichello was involved in a spectacular start-line crash with Schumacher’s brother Ralf, in which the Williams driver was launched into the air.

Schumacher lost positions as he took to the grass to avoid being caught up in the incident, but a superb recovery and mistakes by drivers ahead – including David Coulthard and Juan Pablo Montoya – saw him win by more than 18 seconds.

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At the following round in Malaysia two weeks later, in what was to be the final sighting of the F2001B, Schumacher memorably secured Ferrari’s 150th F1 pole position.

Schumacher’s hopes of a second successive victory to start the 2002 season faded when he made contact with Montoya as the pair duelled for the lead at the first corner, forcing the Ferrari man to pit for a replacement front wing at the end of the opening lap.

In the dominant car at the time, the German once again cut through the field to recover to third at the chequered flag as his brother led a Williams one-two finish.

“We have brought the old car to the first two races and did not really expect to have so many points in our account,” Schumacher remarked at the end of the race in Sepang.

Following the arrival of the F2002 car at the next race in Brazil, a run of nine victories in 12 would see Schumacher march towards a fifth title to equal Fangio’s long-standing record.

He would add a further two titles to his collection in 2003 and 2004, becoming the first driver in history to win seven World Championships – a tally matched by Lewis Hamilton, who would replace Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, in 2020.

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