A Mercedes Formula One car driven by five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio has sold for over $29m at an auction in the UK today as part of a motorsport festival.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed regularly attracts huge crowds in the wake of the British Grand Prix as classic cars from Formula One and endurance racing are paraded and compete in the infamous hill-climb event. This year, as part of the annual auction, Fangio’s car was up for sale with the estimated price set at around $8m.
However, the car in which Fangio claimed the 1954 world championship eventually sold for three times that figure, with the lucky (and wealthy) buyer handing over £19.6m – around $29.6m.
It is the biggest amount paid for a classic racing car, dwarfing the $16m paid for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa two years ago.
The car was on show at Silverstone last month as Sir Stirling Moss (Fangio’s teammate) and current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton posed for pictures and compared their vehicles, leaving Hamilton in some shock when Moss explained that his car was not fitted with seatbelts.
With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.
Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.
Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.
“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.
“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”
Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.
Three weeks after announcing his retirement from motorsport, Johnny Cecotto Jr. will return to racing this weekend at the GP2 round in Sochi, Russia.
Cecotto said on Twitter that “today my career ends” on September 17, announcing that he had lost his backing provided by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
However, the GP2 veteran will return to racing this weekend with Trident, having last raced for the Italian team at Monza one month ago. He will partner Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello once again.
Cecotto’s return is just one of a number of driver/team stories heading into the GP2 race weekend at Sochi:
- American driver Alexander Rossi returns to GP2 with Racing Engineering this weekend following his two-race stint in F1 with Manor. He will also take part in grands prix in the USA, Mexico and Brazil before returning to GP2 once again in Abu Dhabi.
- Julian Leal has announced his retirement from GP2, and is replaced by debutant Dean Stoneman at Carlin. Stoneman won at Sochi in GP3 last year en route to second place in the championship.S
- Sean Gelael will race for Carlin once again, having missed the round at Monza due to a Formula Renault 3.5 clash.
- Nicholas Latifi returns to GP2 this weekend with MP Motorsport, racing alongside Rene Binder.
- Nathanael Berthon also returns, racing for Team Lazarus.
- Hilmer Motorsport will miss the round in Sochi altogether, reducing the grid down to 24 cars.