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Formula 1 cars go under the hammer every now and then, but very rarely are they as special as this one. Yes, it’s the 1991 Benetton B-191-02 that Michael Schumacher drove in his very first season.
The F1 car will be up for sale at the Bonhams Spa Classic Sale in May.
Although it obviously wasn’t the championship-winning car that year, it was nevertheless part of a major stepping stone for Schumacher, who would go on to win the title seven times, and twice with Benetton.
Initially, this car was driven by Roberto Moreno at the San Marino Gran Prix, but it was soon handed over to Nelson Piquet, who drove it to victory in Montreal after sneakily overtaking Nigel Mansell when the latter stalled his V10 Renault while prematurely celebrating his would-be victory.
Schumacher’s first race in this car was interesting, too. The German earned a seat in this car after an impressive seventh place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Jordan, after having practiced the entire said course on a bicycle. Schumacher eventually ended that season in fifth place.
The Benetton B-191-02 later became a museum piece, before undergoing an extensive restoration, including work on the engine, gearbox, chassis and safety equipment. Bonhams says the car is completely original other than the modern, FIA-approved safety equipment.
The B-191-02, which was designed by John Barnard and Mike Coughlan, is powered by a 3,5-litre Cosworth HB V8, which delivered 485 kW at 13 000 r/min and used a 505 kg carbon-composite monocoque chassis.
The car is expected to fetch between R11- and R13-million at auction.