For the first time, a car of seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton of England is being offered for auction. The McLaren MP4-25A will be sold by RM Sotheby’s at Silverstone during the British Grand Prix weekend on Saturday.
The car has a presale estimate of $5 million to $7 million.
Hamilton drove the car in 2010 and won three Grands Prix, in Turkey, Canada and Belgium. He finished fourth in the drivers’ standings, 16 points behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
“A Lewis Hamilton Formula 1 car has never appeared on the public market, and the fact that it is a race-winning car adds to the interest around it,” said Peter Haynes, RM Sotheby’s public relations and marketing director.
“It is a British car driven by a British driver that was sold at a British Grand Prix. All those things fit together nicely.”
The car has been in the possession of someone with a “particularly close relationship with McLaren” for several years, Haynes said. Due to a nondisclosure agreement, the company will not disclose the owner’s name.
RM Sotheby’s has partnered with Formula 1 to provide the setting for the auction. On Saturday, the car will be driven around the track by Mika Hakkinen, who won two titles with McLaren in 1998 and 1999.
“With a unique proposition like this, we owed it to ourselves to find an interesting way to sell it,” Haynes said. “The easiest thing would have been to put it up for a conventional auction and have it on a pedestal while the auctioneer does his thing.”
RM Sotheby’s has held an auction on the starting grid of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Grand Prix. The company sold a Ferrari F2002, driven by Michael Schumacher of Germany, for about $6.6 million.
Another Schumacher race car, a Ferrari F2001, was sold by RM Sotheby’s in 2017 for $7.5 million. And in 2013, Bonhams auctioned off a 1954 Mercedes W196R driven by Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five championships in the 1950s for about $29.7 million.
Kate Beavan, director of hospitality and experiences at Formula 1, said the auction at the British Grand Prix would be unique.
“We wanted to go even bigger at Silverstone and try something that has never been done before,” she said.
Formula 1 has set up a live broadcast for the auction, with footage from the car and on the track.
“Not only will it make a little bit of history, it will be a great piece of theater for the fans and for car enthusiasts everywhere,” said Beavan. “It was a new challenge for us to tackle, but that’s no reason not to try it.”
Engineers and technicians from McLaren Racing’s IndyCar and Heritage divisions have prepared the car for auction.
Mark Grain, the director of the department, worked on the car in 2010 as an assistant chief mechanic. “This car has a lot of good memories for me,” he said. “It really stood out when we rolled it out because it was quite innovative.
“My fondest memory is the Turkish Grand Prix, ourselves against Red Bull. We couldn’t believe it when the Red Bulls pulled each other out of the race, leading to a McLaren one-two. A very iconic moment for this car, and a memorable moment in Formula 1 history.”
Haynes said the auction of a Hamilton car was different, compared to the sale of a car driven by Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian driver who died in 1994, or by Schumacher, because Hamilton was “still in the public arena”.
“Because Hamilton cars will always be incredibly hard to come by, this is an opportunity for someone to buy a car that won a race by the man who will likely remain the most successful Formula 1 driver in history.” he said.