The auction tents set up during Northern California’s upcoming Monterey Car Week promise to be brimming with Ferraris of every model, age, rarity and provenance. This parade of Prancing Horses will, in almost every instance, be accompanied by the ripping-silk sound of strident V-12 engines, as each car, with the blip of the throttle, drives across the auction block. One Ferrari, however, is so special that it likely won’t make a peep, so high-strung is its demeanor and so rigorous its starting regimen. That car, one of the most significant Ferrari race cars in existence, is the 1998 Ferrari F300 Formula 1 machine driven to victory four times by seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher.
It’s no secret that Enzo Ferrari built street cars to support his racing efforts—especially Formula 1, which was, from the marque’s beginning, at the top of the motorsports pyramid. Historic F1 cars are the big game of the collector car world, though they pose none of the legal or ethical challenges like bagging a bull elephant or a mother white rhino. The latter might be stuffed, mounted and dramatically spot-lit in some ghoulish man cave, but many former F1 cars—once-furious machines whose raison d’être was to be faster than their competitors—often meet a similar inanimate end, relegated to private displays in clean-room-like garages. No matter, they remain some of the most coveted race cars in the world.
Maranello introduced the motoring press to its F300 Formula 1 car at the beginning of 1998, and the design saw continuous development through the race season. It’s powered by a new-at-the-time 3.0-liter V-10 engine that makes 800 hp and revs to a blender-like 17,500 rpm. The power train and the car’s advanced aerodynamics prefigured Ferrari’s domination of Formula 1 into the new century. Of course, that success was due in large part to the indefatigable Schumacher.
Chassis No. 187 saw its first checkered flag in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, with Schumacher setting the fastest lap with a 16-second lead. Subsequent victories in France and Britain pit Ferrari squarely against McLaren-Mercedes for Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles. Shortly after, Schumacher won the Italian Grand Prix, securing a career win for the 33rd time.
In 1999, Scuderia Ferrari privately sold its F1-champion race car directly to its first owner in unrestored, as-raced condition, the same state of preservation in which the vehicle remains today. Kept discreetly away from view, it is being offered for the first time in a public sale by RM Sotheby’s on Saturday, August 20, and is estimated to fetch as much as $8 million.