The Ferrari in which Formula One legend Michael Schumacher drove to the 2003 World Championship title is set to be auctioned by Sotheby’s on Wednesday.
The F2003-GA, Chassis 229 is estimated to fetch between 7.5 and 9.5 million Swiss francs ($7.6 and $9.6 million) when it goes on offer during the Sotheby’s Luxury Week of sales in Geneva.
It is “one of the most significant Formula One cars of all time", the auctioneers said.
Schumacher raced nine times in the car, winning five Grands Prix in the 2003 season and driving it when he clinched the title in Japan.
“It’s one of the Ferraris with the most victories in the constructor’s history, so it’s a very important car in the history of motor racing," Vincent Luzuy, from the Sotheby’s branch dealing with luxury car sales, told AFP.
Designed by Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn, the F2003-GA featured a longer wheelbase to improve aerodynamics, he explained.
It was brought in at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth race of the 2003 season. Chassis 229 is by far the most successful of the six F2003-GAs that were built.
Schumacher drove it to victory in Spain and also won the Austrian, Canadian, Italian and US Grands Prix in the car.
He also claimed pole position in Spain, Austria and Italy in the car, and the fastest laps in Austria, Italy and the United States.
- ‘Real pleasure’ -
The car powered Schumacher to his sixth F1 title — a total that saw the German overtake the five won by Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s.
It also helped Ferrari win a 13th constructor’s championship — the Italian team’s fifth in a row.
“It’s a real pleasure driving it," Schumacher’s F1 driver son Mick said after giving the car a run around Ferrari’s Fiorano Circuit.
“It’s when the cars were sounding the nicest, driving the nicest," he said, citing the three-litre V-10 engine.
Luzuy said such F1 cars were rare on the market.
“We’ve got quite a few interested collectors," he said.
“In 2017 we sold a car from the 2001 season also driven by Schumacher. At the time, we estimated the car at $3.5 million and in the end it sold for $7.5 million, so it proves that there’s still a special interest in these cars, especially those with such a history," he said.
The car was sold in New York to a US buyer.
Schumacher has not been seen in public since suffering serious injuries in skiing accident in 2013.
- Jewels up for grabs -
Sotheby’s Geneva Luxury Week kicked off on Friday, featuring a range of jewellery, watches, and designer handbags.
Jewellery enthusiasts can try to acquire a fancy vivid blue cushion-shaped diamond weighing 5.53 carats, which is estimated at 11 to 15 million Swiss francs.
It is part of the De Beers Exceptional Blue Collection — a group of eight rare fancy blue diamonds with a total value of more than $70 million, being sold in Geneva, New York and Hong Kong.
Another outstanding lot is a fine emerald and diamond bracelet from the 1850s from the collection of empress Eugenie (1826-1920), the wife of French emperor Napoleon III. It is estimated between 60,000 and 80,000 Swiss francs.
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