- The genesis of the most successful dynasty in modern motorsport, the first Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team car driven to victory by seven-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton
- The modern successor to Mercedes’ iconic Silver Arrows, often considered the most valuable cars in the world, evoking the unforgettable triumphs of Caracciola, Moss, and Fangio
- The sole example to be sold outside of the Mercedes organization
- Driven by Hamilton at 14 out of the 19 events during the 2013 Formula One season; winner of the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix
- Campaigned in the final Formula One World Championship to feature V-8 engines, “the last year for a real Formula One soundtrack”
- A seminal piece in the story of the winningest Formula One driver of all time, 103 races and counting
THE SILVER ARROW DYNASTY
First coined by a German radio broadcaster in 1932 to describe the sleek aluminum-bodied Mercedes-Benz SSKL racecar, the term Silver Arrow soon became synonymous with Stuttgart’s finest racing machines, truly coming into vogue during the late 1930s when factory drivers Rudolf Caracciola and Hemann Lang dominated the field with their supercharged W125 grand prix cars. In the 1950s, the term was resuscitated to describe Mercedes’ mighty W196 Formula One cars and the corresponding 300 SLR racecars, which were piloted to unmitigated success by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss.
Fangio took commanding Formula One Drivers’ Championships in the Silver Arrows in 1954 and 1955, and who knows how long the cars would have dominated had not the disastrous accident at Le Mans in 1955 prompted Mercedes-Benz to withdraw from factory-based racing. The significance of these cars has been confirmed in more recent years by their appreciation among collectors, as evidenced by world-record sales prices for the ex-Fangio W196 grand prix car and the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe.
While the Silver Arrow nom de guerre was occasionally applied over the intervening decades to racecars using Mercedes engines, like the Sauber Le Mans prototypes of the 1980s and the McLaren Formula One cars of the late 2000s, the term was not again embodied in its truest sense until 2010, when Mercedes-Benz finally reentered Formula One competition in the form of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team.
Driven for three years by the duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, who had been lured out of retirement, these new Silver Arrows achieved solid, if unspectacular results, while being powered by naturally aspirated V-8 engines dictated by the racing formula then in place. A new hybrid V-6 formula awaited the 2014 season, and in preparation for this in 2013 Mercedes-AMG, with Schumacher returning to civilian life, brought in one of the sport’s most promising young drivers, a fortuitous measure that soon took the form of legend.
MOST VALUABLE MARQUE MEETS MOST SUCCESSFUL DRIVER
In 2007, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team reformulated its driver line-up with the addition of one of the hottest young drivers in GP2, one Lewis Hamilton, to compete with team driver Fernando Alonso. In his first season with the team, Hamilton secured pole position in six races and made the podium an impressive 12 times, nine times in succession. Of the 12 podiums four were first-place finishes. Hamilton would end the 2007 season one point behind Kimi Raikkonen for the driver’s championship, an unbelievable feat for a rookie driver, making him the youngest runner-up for the award at the time. A new talent had arrived.
The 2008 season would see Hamilton build on the prior year’s successes, achieving seven pole positions and reaching the podium 10 times, of which five were first place finishes. The success secured Hamilton the driver’s championship for the 2008 season, the first of many.
In the ensuing four years, despite having perhaps the best driver on the scene, McLaren failed to field a sufficiently competitive car, which allowed the Red Bull-Renault team to achieve four consecutive Drivers’ Championships. At the end of September 2012, Lewis Hamilton announced he was leaving McLaren to join Mercedes. The landscape of Formula One was about to change dramatically, with a shift in power from Redbull-Renault to the storied Silver Arrows of Mercedes.
After a year of development in 2013, the world would bear witness to what would become the most successful dynasty in motorsport history as Hamilton went on to pilot the new Silver Arrows to six Driver’s Championships over seven years, while contributing to eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships for Mercedes-AMG between 2014 and 2021.
Hamilton’s domination of the sport achieves the revered accomplishments of other notable athletes. He holds the record for all-time wins in Formula One at 103, well ahead of Michael Schumacher’s 91, and Sebastian Vettel’s 53. He has the most pole positions of any driver in the sport’s history with 104, ahead of Schumacher with 68, and Ayrton Senna with 65. What’s more, Hamilton has secured more podium finishes than any driver in Formula One, clinching a total of 197—more than Schumacher’s already impressive 155 and Vettel’s 122. To put his astounding accomplishments further into perspective, Hamilton made it to the podium nearly 60 percent of the time he spent on the track—a truly remarkable achievement.
With each added championship, Hamilton increasingly proved that he belonged in the conversation of Greatest of All Time, as his championships were easily as impressive as Michael Jordan’s six NBA Championships, Tom Brady’s seven Superbowl victories, and Lionel Messi’s 816 goals. Like each of these phenomenal superstars, Hamilton transcended his chosen sport, becoming a popular culture icon with his off-track pursuits in social activism, philanthropy, music, and fashion. His impact on world culture was duly recognized when he made Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in 2020, and in late 2021 he was knighted by King Charles.
But before his greatest achievements with Mercedes-AMG, Hamilton spent the 2013 season predominantly driving one car, which can now rightly be viewed as the earliest cross-section between the most valuable marque and the most successful driver.
CHASSIS NUMBER F1W04-04
Unveiled February 2013 at the Jerez track in southern Spain, Mercedes-AMG’s W04 Formula One model was the team’s final car to feature a naturally aspirated V-8 engine, as the hybrid V-6 formula took effect for the 2014 season. Power came from a 2.4-liter V-8 with an 18,000-rpm redline, producing 750 horsepower with an additional 80 horsepower on tap through the ingenious kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). The engine was paired to a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission, developed jointly with Xtrac. It was the first to feature front-to-rear inter-connected suspension (FRIC) for improved mechanical grip and the last Mercedes-AMG F1 car with a high nose. By Mercedes-AMG’s own admission, the W04 represented the biggest single leap in car performance the team had ever made at that point in time.
Chassis F1W04-04 marks a truly special car in the lineage of Mercedes-AMG and the career of Lewis Hamilton. In his very first season with Mercedes chassis F1W04-04 was driven by Hamilton in 14 of the 19 races of the 2013 season. Hamilton would finish the season fourth in the driver’s championship with five pole positions and five podium finishes. Four of those podium finishes were accomplished in this car, including third place finishes at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Chinese Grand Prix, and the Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton’s crowning achievement that season was a dominating performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July 2013. In that race Hamilton qualified in the pole position and piloted this car, chassis F1W04-04, to an impressive first place finish, 10.9 seconds ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and 12.4 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who would go on to win the 2013 driver’s championship. The win marked Hamilton’s fourth victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which at the time tied him with Michael Schumacher for most wins at that race. The win also made Hamilton the first British driver to win in a Mercedes since Sterling Moss’s win at the 1955 British Grand Prix. Serving as Hamilton’s primary car for the 2013 season, chassis F1W04-04 is an immensely important car, one in which he secured his first win with Mercedes, and an impressive finish in the driver’s championship, offering a glimpse of the success to come for Hamilton and Mercedes.
THE APPRECIATION OF A TRUE COLLECTIBLE
Hamilton’s accomplishments are not yet finished, as his Formula One driving career with Mercedes-AMG continues to this day. Considering that his story’s conclusion is yet to be written, we can only speculate how many more triumphs the be-knighted driver will achieve before he retires.
For the dedicated Mercedes racing collector or speculator intent on acquiring a race-winning competition car from the world’s most elite motorsport, driven to victory by a living legend, it should be noted that the vast majority of Mercedes team cars have remained within company ownership, and it is confirmed that this car, chassis F1W04-04, is the sole Hamilton-driven Mercedes-AMG Formula One car to be sold outside of the Mercedes organization.
The amalgamation of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of hours in research and development, chassis F1W04-04 embodies the race-winning legacy of Mercedes’ celebrated Silver Arrows, powered by the last of the naturally aspirated engines and with technological innovations unfathomable to its forebearers. Serving as the primary car for Lewis Hamilton throughout the 2013 season, and the car in which he achieved his first win with Mercedes, chassis F1W04-04 is the ultimate motorsports collectible, playing a pivotal role in Formula One’s all-time winningest driver’s start with Mercedes and marking the beginning of the next Silver Arrow dynasty. This significant racecar embodies the genesis of an important era in Formula One and Mercedes-AMG history. It symbolizes a passing of the baton from one all-time racing great—Michael Schumacher—to another, representing the cornerstone of the Hamilton legend, one which cannot be repeated and will forever occupy a prized place in the annals of Formula One lore.
After a record-breaking week - Click here for full Las Vegas Auction results - RM Sotheby's head to Munich Motorworld, Hailed as One of Europe's Premier Hubs of Car Culture - 25th November