Alex Zanardi‘s 1999 Williams Formula 1 car has sold for more than £300,000 at auction, after being advertised with an estimate starting at £85,000.
Demand for the Williams FW21 was hard to gauge given the car’s limited success and unknown mechanical condition, but bidders quickly pushed the price past the estimate — equivalent to a high-spec Audi e-tron SUV.
The hammer eventually fell at €362,250 (£308,000) once the buyer’s premium was added.
The V10-powered car was raced by Zanardi in 14 grands prix during the 1999 season. Although Williams’ glory years had ended two seasons previously, he still recorded four top-ten finishes with this chassis No05.
Its highlight came at the Italian Grand Prix where Zanardi qualified fourth, ran in third and finished seventh, just missing out on championship points in an era where only the top six were rewarded.
Zanardi was running third at Monza but dropped back with floor damage
Darren Heath/Getty Images
The Renault engine, rebadged Supertec for the ‘99 season, remains with the car, and all key components are said to be complete as per their last run.
“It’s from the best-sounding era that the sport has ever seen,” said Mark Osborne, global director of motor sport at Bonhams ahead of the auction.
But, as the description makes clear in the sales brochure, the Williams has been on static display for 15 years, which means that the new owner is likely to have to dig deep.
“Yes, you can get a Formula 1 car for that [estimate] but it will be sitting in a garage,” said Osborne. “The price for this car is just the start.
“Anyone thinking they can pour in some oil, set the tyre pressure and go racing is going to be disappointed. There is quite some substantial investment needed to get this car going.
“The car would need to be completely dismantled and rebuilt; I do not know what state the engine is in.”