The Formula 1 Car That Set Ferrari On The Way To Dominance Is Heading To Auction In London
Ferrari’s extraordinary period of Formula 1 dominance with Michael Schumacher driving is well known, taking five drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles from 2000 to 2004. Yet about as extraordinary was the team’s turnaround that preceded this dominance. Barely over half a decade before Ferrari was in a lengthy period of doldrums.
It was the 1994 season that the team started to turn itself around, and an actual Ferrari that raced that year, indeed the very car that provided the first sign of its upturn, is heading to auction in RM Sotheby’s London sale taking place in West Kensington’s Olympia event space in on October 24. The seismic car is offered from the Autobau Collection and is expected to sell for £1,500,000 to £2,000,000.
At the start of that ‘94 season Ferrari hadn’t won a race since 1990 and its best result across the previous two campaigns was a single second place. But Jean Todt, who as team boss would lead Ferrari to its considerable success, had joined partway through the previous year, while famous technical chief John Barnard rejoined. And Ferrari’s 412 T1 car for the ‘94 campaign stopped the rot, ending the team’s win drought and looking a victory contender in a few other rounds. Adding to the car’s allure, it was beautiful to look at as well as was powered by a gorgeous-sounding V12 engine.
And this very car going under the hammer—chassis 149, the second of eight 412 T1s constructed—provided the first clear indication that Ferrari was on the comeback trail. Jean Alesi in it qualified and finished third in 1994’s season-opening round at Interlagos in Brazil.
Chassis 149 was then used as a spare car for much of the rest of that season, though it had a second moment of glory in Ferrari’s Italian home round at Monza in September. Alesi’s team-mate Gerhard Berger in it finished a close second behind winner Damon Hill’s Williams. It might have been an even better result for Ferrari as the red pair dominated qualifying, locking out the front row, helped by the usually-untouchable Schumacher in the Benetton serving the first of a two-race ban for ignoring a disqualification black flag in the Silverstone round.
Alesi in the Monza race built a strong lead but couldn’t get his car in gear when trying to depart his first pitstop, and had to retire in a rage. This left Berger leading and fending off the close-at-hand Williams duo, who both got ahead with faster stops. Berger didn’t give up though and inherited second place at the last when Hill’s team-mate David Coulthard ran out of fuel.
The car was used as spare one final time in the following round before being retired by Ferrari. It remained in the marque’s hands until 2002, when it was sold to its first private owner. It was later purchased by the consignor for display in his private museum in Switzerland through Garage Foitek in 2013. And during this ownership the car has been maintained in full running order; it is fitted with a ‘041’ 65-degree V12 engine and has been used for a number of track days. It is immaculately presented, has Ferrari Classiche certification and would doubtless be a welcome addition to the Ferrari Corse Clienti and other demonstration events.
Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s