MOTOR RACING SUPERSTAR MICHAEL SCHUMACHER'S BENETTON-COSWORTH FORD B194 IS TO GO UNDER THE HAMMER AT BONHAMS ON 1 DECEMBER
The single-seater Benetton-Cosworth Ford B194 is the very car in which the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion amassed the most amount of points during the 1994 Championship - the season during which he won his first, thus his most significant, Championship title.
Placing an accurate auction estimate on such an historic car is extremely difficult, but experts expect it to reach in excess of £600,000.
Known by its chassis number 'B194-05' the car raced to victory at four World Championship Grand Prix races in 1994, including those at Imola and Monaco, the Canadian and the French Grand Prix, with two further second-place finishes.
But as well as success, the car has also witnessed tragedy.
During its first race at Imola in Italy, Schumacher lined B194-05 up alongside triple World Champion Ayrton Senna's Williams-Renault after qualifying.
As the two drivers sped at more than 180mph into the Tamburello Curve, Senna's car lost control and hit the wall, and he sadly succumbed to his fatal injuries. Schumacher's Benetton was just yards behind.
Despite the tragic events at Imola, when the race was eventually restarted it would be Schumacher who took race honours.
Freshly prepped for each race, the car also diced on the track against other thoroughbred drivers such as Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jean Alesi, and at the end of the season it was retained by the team at the factory in Enstone, Oxfordshire.
B194-05 has since been demonstrated at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and has been meticulously prepared for sale. Recent engineering work has included a complete rebuild of the Cosworth-Ford Zetec engine, a new gearbox and a modernised high-speed paddle-shift gear change system.
The Benetton-Cosworth Ford B194 comes with its original Mild Seven livery, spares and complete pit equipment. Uniquely, it is also offered with a post-sale test drive at its current base, the Ascari Race Resort in Spain.
James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director, said: "Having handled and successfully sold the Nuvolari 1930s Alfa Romeo 8C-35 and the Fangio 1950s Mercedes Benz W196, we are delighted to cap off 2013 by offering another exceptional single-seater – the Schumacher 1994 Benetton B194 from his first Championship-Winning season.
"Unlike so many other modern era Formula 1 cars, this one is complete, fully operational and effectively in race-ready condition. In fact, only a few weeks ago we were filming the car at the Ascari track in southern Spain."
A video and photo-shoot run for Bonhams was completed earlier this year and can be viewed at www.bonhams.com/benetton
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com