Lewis Hamilton's inaugural Formula One victory for Mercedes took a historic turn as the car he piloted, the Mercedes F1 W04, fetched an impressive USD18.8 million at an auction in Las Vegas. This sale is of particular importance as it signifies the exclusive chance for the general people to obtain a Mercedes Formula 1 car that has been driven by Hamilton.
The turning point occurred in 2013 when Niki Lauda, a veteran in the world of Formula 1, influenced the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to sign Hamilton. During that period, Hamilton, a former world champion affiliated with McLaren Racing, commenced a profound and influential adventure. This calculated action not only changed the course of Hamilton's career but also heralded a new era in Formula 1, one in which Hamilton led Mercedes to dominance. The F1 W04, which has been sold, serves as a tangible item that symbolises the beginning of an extraordinary era in the history of motorsport.
F1: About Mercedes F1 W04
With 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, the Mercedes F1 W04, a Formula One racing car painstakingly developed by the Mercedes team for the 2013 season. Hamilton's inclusion into the squad signified a huge transition following the retirement of Michael Schumacher at the completion of the 2012 season.
The Mercedes-AMG W04, which debuted at the Jerez track in southern Spain in February 2013, was the team's final car to use a naturally aspirated V-8 engine. This car was a precursor to the 2014 season when a change to a hybrid V-6 formula was implemented. The powerhouse of the W04 was a 2.4-litre V-8 engine sporting an 18,000-rpm redline, providing 750 horsepower, boosted by an additional 80 horsepower courtesy of the clever kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).
The seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox was a joint effort between the team and Xtrac, and it transferred the power of the engine to the rear wheels. The W04's innovative front-to-rear inter-connected suspension (FRIC) increased the vehicle's mechanical grip. Notably, it was the last Mercedes-AMG F1 car to feature a high nose, marking the end of an era.
Mercedes-AMG admitted that the W04 typified the biggest improvement in automotive performance that they had made to that moment. As retired race cars become more popular among private collectors, their history spreads beyond the track. In 2017, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari F2001 sold for USD 7.5 million, and in 2022, an F2003-GA sold for over USD 15 million.
The most expensive race car ever sold was the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 piloted by the great Juan Manuel Fangio. It sold for a record USD 29.6 million at a Bonhams auction in 2013.