Nigel Mansell’s 1991 British GP-winning Williams, which he used to pick up a stranded Ayrton Senna, has been auctioned for €4.055m (£3.45m), even though the chassis was without its V10 engine.
The Williams FW14, chassis No5 was gifted to Mansell at the end of the 1991 season and is the very same one that he drove to five race wins that season. He has owned it until last weekend’s RM Sotheby’s auction in Monaco, where it sold for more than €1m (£850,000) above its estimate.
Mansell’s 1989 Ferrari 640, which he drove to victory on his debut with the team, was sold — with engine — at the same sale for €3.605m (£3.07m).
His Williams is arguably most famous for its role as the Senna taxi after the British Grand Prix when Brazilian’s McLaren ran out of fuel on the final lap. “I could see he was getting a hard time from the fans and I thought ‘Well I’ll give him a lift, see if I can drop him off’,” Mansell previously told Motor Sport.
The image has since become iconic; a display of sportsmanship among championship rivals, which has rarely been seen in recent years.
Sparks fly between Mansell and Senna in Barcelona
Grand Prix Photo
Renault having reclaimed its V10 engine before the car was delivered to Mansell, leaving the car unable to run, but it didn’t deter bidders in the Mansell Collection sale who sent the price well beyond the estimated range of €1.5m and €3m (£1.25m-£2.5m).
Mansell used the chassis in all five of his Formula 1 victories that year, beginning in Magny Cours at the French Grand Prix, followed by Silverstone, then Hockenheim and Monza.
It starred in another of that year’s memorable images as he fought side-by-side with Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix, which he went on to win as well.
Chassis No5, carrying Red 5, won five times in Mansell’s hands
The car also featured in the two incidents that cost Mansell that year’s title: a wheel fell off after a pitstop in the Portuguese Grand Prix, resulting in Mansell’s disqualification when mechanics worked on the car in the pitlane. Then he crashed out at the Japanese Grand Prix confirming Senna as champion at Suzuka.