Nigel Mansell’s F1 championship-winning Williams FW14B sells for £2.7mby Graham Keilloh on 5th July 2019
Nigel Mansell's classic and dominating ‘Red Five’ 1992 Williams-Renault FW14B F1 car is sold for £2.7m in Goodwood auction
A Williams-Renault FW14B which Nigel Mansell drove to five grand prix victories, on his way to winning the 1992 Formula 1 world championship, has sold for £2.703 million at auction, setting a new record for Williams F1 cars.
A three-way international bidding war broke out to secure the car, at the Bonhams Festival of Speed sale, held at Goodwood, and the Williams-Renault was eventually sold to a buyer described as a "renowned private collector".
The car, chassis NoFW14/08, is the one used by Mansell in the first five races of the 1992 season. He took pole position and victory in each one to build an impregnable lead in the title race.
Mansell raced the car in a further two grands prix before team-mate Riccardo Patrese took the chassis from the British Grand Prix, in the middle of the season. He competed in six events before the FW14/08's season was over: while overtaking Gerhard Berger, the Ferrari driver backed-off to head into the pits and two wheels touched, sending Patrese into the air at 160mph, and clattering into the pit barrier. Patrese was unhurt and the car suffered only minor damage that was quickly repaired —according to the auction brochure.
Mansell in the Williams-Renault FW14B/08 on his way to victory in the season-opening 1992 South African Grand Prix Photo: Motorsport Images
Even a quarter of a century on, few F1 cars have been as crushing or as sophisticated as the FW14B: Williams took 10 out of 16 victories in 1992.
Mansell’s solitary F1 crown was overdue too, as it came in his last full season in F1 – when Mansell was pushing 40 – by which point he had finished runner-up in the table three times. But such was Mansell’s dominance in 1992 it was as if he was making up for lost time.
The FW14B strode markedly ahead of the rest in its sophisticated systems such as active suspension, a semi-automatic paddle shift gearbox and traction control. Many of these features were banned for the 1994 season, so the FW14B remains, even now, one of the most advanced cars to have competed in F1. Karun Chandhok track-tested a FW14B for Motor Sport in 2017.
And harnessed with ‘Red Five’ Mansell’s as ever forceful driving Williams-Renault ended McLaren-Honda’s run of four world championship doubles emphatically, as Mansell clinched his drivers’ crown a whole five races before the end of the season.
More: Mansell's perfect ride
The car has been painstakingly well-preserved since the post-Portugal repairs, initially by Williams and subsequently by a single private owner, and it means the car survives today in running order. Both its V10-cylinder engine and the sophisticated hydraulic active-suspension system were put into use in ahead of the auction.
It remains to be seen whether the car will appear on the historic racing circuit, or disappear into a hidden collection.
This article was updated following the auction.